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Invest in PCN leadership or risk undermining integrated primary care, NHS England told

Invest in PCN leadership or risk undermining integrated primary care, NHS England told

By Jess Hacker
26 May 2022

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Investing in PCN leadership will be the ‘difference between success and failure’ in integrating primary care, a major NHS England-commissioned review has warned.

Far greater focus must be given to the development and support of clinical directors beyond the basic arrangements in the national contract, it said.

Led by Dr Claire Fuller – chief executive of an Integrated Care System (ICS) in Surrey and a GP – the stocktake report offers a series of sweeping recommendations to bolster integrated working in primary care.

The report suggested that clinical directors would benefit from ‘sufficient protected time to be able to meet the leadership challenge in integrated neighbourhood teams’.

It added that the role of the PCN directors’ is ‘essential’ to the leadership of these teams, noting that strong and purposeful leadership within these networks would improve retention.

It also said systems could support clinical directors developing integrated teams by:

  • Offering an opportunity to develop focus areas, with senior GPs serving as the ‘consultant in general practice’ – working across prevention, chronic and urgent care as part of wider teams
  • Securing specialist input from secondary care as part of job planning for consultants
  • Supporting community partners to operationally embed relevant teams as an integral part of existing PCN teams, recognising that the integration of community and mental health services with primary care is crucial to delivering more integrated care for patients in the community.

PCNs should also be given the tools to make ‘routine use’ of population data to inform their service provision, it said, suggesting networks need to be able to access a shared patient record and real-time data ‘on-demand’.

Local systems accessing the right data to support the integrated neighbourhood teams to help primary care enhance its services, would ensure change happens at local, rather than central-level, it later suggested.

The report said: ‘The glue that holds all of this together is leadership: investing in leadership at PCN, place and system level will be the difference between success and failure in integrating primary care. The talent pool that exists in primary care is vast: supporting and nurturing that talent to be innovative, brave and collaborative in leading the changes outlined in this stocktake will help to reignite appetite for change and improvement in neighbourhoods right across the NHS.’

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