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What to focus on in Q2 - A Guide for Primary Care Network Leaders

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

At THC Primary Care, we provide resources for Primary Care Network leaders and four times a year, we offer a suggested action plan of where to focus your attention each quarter.

This guide should sit alongside the other workstreams taking place within your network.

You will know much of this already, but personally, I like to write things down in the form of a 90-day plan to keep me focused and on track.

In this blog we...

  1. Invite you to review your progress in Q1.

  2. Remind you of the general key business-as-usual activities (as well as those specific to your network).

  3. Remind you about the June 2023 national workforce data extraction / reporting.

  4. Advise you to think about workforce planning for both the summer period and in preparation for winter pressures.

  5. Suggest a quarterly finance review.

  6. Call attention to the importance of communicating network progress with member practices and wider staff.

Let’s jump in!

1. Review progress from Q1

I would first start with a review of Q1. Did you achieve your key objectives?

Whilst acknowledging that not every network is the same, in our blog, 'What to focus on in Q1', we suggested that PCN leaders should:

Submit the PCN accounts to the accountant.

Review their IIF performance from 22/23 and confirm how this money will be reinvested back into the network.

Review the Impact and Investment Fund indicators for 23/24 and create a plan for the achievement of these.

Present a summary of the 23/24 DES to the network, ensuring that roles and responsibilities have been allocated.

Confirm how you plan to spend your PCN finances for the year ahead.

Agree the Clinical Director's payment amount (due to the slight reduction in the NHSE payment).

Submit your capacity and access improvement plan.

Review the QOF quality improvement guidance and facilitate your first peer review meeting.

Create your business plan for 23/24.

You may need to carry some unfinished activities into Q2.

2. Business as usual activities

We fully recognise that no PCN is precisely the same. Many teams run many different projects day-to-day and 'business as usual', by definition, will differ from network to network. With this in mind, here's a list of the core services (and activities) which Primary Care Network leaders are generally obligated to deliver on a daily basis:

➡️ DES specifications

· Enhanced Access

· Social Prescribing

· Enhanced Care in Care Homes

· Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

· Medication reviews and medicines optimisation

· Early Cancer Diagnosis (ECD)

· Tackling neighbourhood health inequalities

· Impact and Investment Fund

· The vaccination programme (if you are still delivering this)

· Monitoring network performance

· Contract reviews (if you commission services)

· Recruitment

· Stakeholder management

· Local contracts and projects that the PCN are also delivering on.

Details of the DES specification can be found here.

🎯 Here is where you will want to review what is working well and where areas for improvement are required.

3. Reporting

You should have by now received an email titled 'National Workforce Reporting Service – June Extraction Reminder'.

NWRS data extracts are now taken monthly for both general practices and PCNs.

The next Practice data extraction will be on 30th June 2023

The next PCN data extraction will be on 30th June 2023

To find out more about the NWRS, you can:

🎯 Watch a 2-minute video about why your staff data is important

🎯 Watch a 'how-to' video to learn how to access and amend your data

🎯 Email quoting 'NWRS' in the subject

🎯 Request a support session with the team by emailing and quoting ‘NWRS support call request’

🎯 Attend a webinar for data providers – the next one will be announced soon by NHS England Regional Leads

🎯 Visit the NWRS support webpage

🎯 Have you completed this?

4. Human Resources & Workforce Planning

➡️ Summer Holidays

As we approach the summer, I like to remind the team to book their holidays and let their practices know of their leave dates as soon as possible.

➡️ Winter pressures

The summer is the time to start planning for winter pressures. Winter pressures is an NHS term which defines the spike in demand when an already-stressed system experiences increased pressure impacting; patient wait times, workforce capacity, wellbeing, and health and care financial budgets.

Winter pressures also encompass many illnesses relating to respiratory diseases, flu, chest infections and other conditions which respond poorly to cold weather peaks in the winter.

When taking into account your current workforce (within both practice and PCN staff) AND your ARRS budget, this is the time to think about who (or which) services you will need to support you through the winter this year.

⚠️ Start planning now to avoid the mad dash for staff and services which will be needed in Q3.

5. Finances

It may seem like I am always talking about network finances, but a quarterly review is always a good idea, especially if you're new in post.

➡️ Impact and Investment Fund

In respect of reconciling your IIF payment; if any targets/ payments are lower than expected and you can prove this, be ready with this evidence to present your ICB.

➡️ Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme

On 1st July, the reimbursement rate for the roles increases. For more details, please see our blog titled; 'How to approach Primary Care Network pay rises in 2023 and beyond'. This may prompt you to review your salaries.

Please also check out our new salary calculator found here.

➡️ Capacity and Access

The deadline to submit the capacity and access plan is 30th June 2023.

Whilst you wait for your plan to be approved, if you are yet to do this, I would start mapping the current GP appointment data.

Once your plan is approved, it is time to start implementing your plan.

Remember to capture your baseline so you can measure and monitor your improvements.

If you are brand new to your network and have no idea what I'm talking about, check out; 'How to approach and what to include in your Primary Care Network Capacity & Access Improvement Plan'.

6. Communication

One of the most common complaints network staff share with us is the lack of communication and lack of visibility regarding progress.

The board wants to know what is happening behind the scenes (particularly where progress is being made), so make your quarterly newsletter a bumper issue and share your successes, any patient feedback and what’s coming up next.

Repeat certain messages and instructions and tailor your communications so your PCN board, your PCN team and your practice staff understand how the information you are sharing relates to them.

We hope this helps.


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About the Author

I'm Tara; I am the founder of THC Primary Care, an award-winning healthcare consultancy specialising in Primary Care Network Management and the host of the Business of Healthcare Podcast, where we have now published over 200 episodes.

I have over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sectors, and I have supported over 120 PCNs by providing interim management, training and consultancy.

I have managed teams across multiple sites and countries; I have an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, I'm published in the London Journal of Primary Care, and I am the author of over 250 blogs.

I have 3 children. My eldest has Asthma, my middle child has a kidney condition called Nephrotic Syndrome, and my youngest daughter has Type 1 Diabetes, so outside of work, healthcare plays a huge role in my life.

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