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Why does my Primary Care Network need Clinical Leads when we have a Clinical Director?

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

I usually write our blogs for new Primary Care Network Managers, but I was recently asked by a Clinical Director if I had a blog which explained why a primary care network might want clinical leads when they already have a Clinical Director?

In this blog, I provide my take on this along with answering some practical considerations regarding pay, the time commitment, and I also provide you with a clinical lead checklist.

The network, at a minimum, is required to deliver on the following.

1. The vaccination programme – (If you are still delivering this)

2. Extended Access, which will move into Enhanced Access from 1st October

3. Social Prescribing

4. Enhanced Care in Care Homes

5. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

6. Medication reviews and medicines optimisation

7. Early Cancer Diagnosis (ECD)

8. Tackling Neighbourhood Health Inequalities

9. Personalised Care

There is also;

10. The Impact and Investment Fund

11. Monitoring network performance

12. Recruitment and Human resources

13. Stakeholder management

14. Financial management

15. The day-to-day operations

With many networks responsible for £400k, £600k, £800k and in some cases, over £1,000,000 of resources across multiple practices (For the majority, not all!), there is simply not enough time for CDs to do their job well.

One may argue that many do not have enough time to do their role, and as a leader, doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done is part and parcel of the role. However, with many Clinical Directors with at least one other role and life outside of their job, they need some help which I think is fair.

It is a tremendous help and need to the network to distribute some of the leadership to other clinical and non-clinical leads for them to;

  • Read and interpret the specification

  • Communicate this to their practices

  • To act as the first point of call on a particular matter

  • Attend meetings concerning the subject area

I promote this model in all of the networks we support, and it works well, although there is typically always one practice that doesn't want to contribute.

When practices and other members of the network lead on workstreams, this promotes:

  • Trust

  • Transparency

  • Better communication

  • More collaboration and engagement

The increased collaboration will also have a positive impact on the financial performance of the network.

Practical questions

Do clinical and non-clinical leads get paid?


The practice or individual will receive reimbursement.

What funding stream can we use to fund the clinical or non-clinical lead?

You could use funding from the following funding streams

· Core funding

· Last year’s impact and investment fund

· The leadership and management fund

What is the time commitment?

Clinical and non-clinical leads spend typically a maximum of 2 sessions a month.

Is there a job description?

Following a master class delivered by GP Partner Dr Najib Seedat on the role of the clinical lead in our PCN Online Accelerator Programme, I thought I would share his checklist as a starter for 10.

This checklist aims to help your clinical leads gain a better understanding of what is expected of them.

Please check out our blog, The Role of the PCN Clinical Lead.

If we have a Clinical Director AND a Clinical Lead, who is responsible for what?

This depends on how you run your network but typically, The PCN Clinical Director holds the leadership responsibility and accountability for the network.

The clinical lead is responsible for a particular workstream.

I hope this helps!

We provide coaching, courses, our blog, newsletters and the Business of healthcare podcast.

We are a small team hugely passionate about Primary Care Networks and the PCN Manager role.

We try to give you as much FREE content as possible alongside our day job of managing Primary Care Networks. To date, we have written over 245 blogs, recorded over 190 podcasts and produced a weekly newsletter over the past 7 years.

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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.

I have over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sectors.

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 245 blogs.

I have 3 children. My eldest has Asthma, my middle child has a kidney condition called Nephrotic SyndromeNephrotic 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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