New GP networks to provide improved services and more holistic care

New GP networks to provide improved services and more holistic care

Longer GP opening hours, a bigger range of health services and better links to community support are all on the cards, thanks to the creation of new ‘networks’ of GP practices.

Twelve ‘Primary Care Networks’ (PCNs) have been established across east and north Hertfordshire in a move designed to improve local or ‘primary care’ NHS services.

By encouraging GP practices to work more closely together in groups, together with other health and care staff in their local area, Primary Care Networks (PCNs) aim to provide more proactive, personalised, coordinated and joined-up health and social care.

PCNs will be able to employ a wider set of staff roles than is possible in most GP practices, such as physiotherapists, pharmacists and specialist ‘social prescribing’ link workers* who are employed to connect people with support and advice services in their local area.

Networks will receive specific funding for clinical pharmacists and link workers this year, with funding for physiotherapists, highly trained clinicians called ‘physician associates’ and paramedics in subsequent years. 

Beverley Flowers, Chief Executive of East and North Hertfordshire CCG said: “A key aim of our work is to ensure that health and care services that can be delivered locally are delivered locally, by experts working together to benefit their communities.  The creation of Primary Care Networks is a significant step towards that goal.  By joining forces in this way, we can bring together district nurses, pharmacists, GPs and physiotherapists, so that people don’t have to travel as far to get the specialist help that they need. 

“Members of the public who are most likely to benefit from these new ways or working are those who have the most complex health needs, people who need extra help and support to live healthy, happy lives and those who don’t have ready access to their own transport.”

PCNs will typically serve populations of 30,000 to 50,000.  Each PCN will have an appointed Clinical Director who is accountable to the other network members and will provide leadership for the PCN’s strategic plans. Clinical Directors will also help ensure that the aims and ambitions of the national NHS Long Term Plan are delivered in our area.

Dr Alison Jackson, one of the newly appointed Clinical Directors said: "PCNs give us an opportunity to help deal with the challenges and pressures we face within the NHS that could benefit both professionals and patients within their local population. Through closer working and sharing ideas and expertise, we will be able to help sustain the future of primary care within our local area. The additional resources and future new staff roles are also welcome to help build capacity and resilience within the local system.”

Notes to Editors

  1. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are required to commit recurrent funding to develop and maintain PCNs. CCGs will initially support the development of the PCNs and the recruitment of new workforce; the bulk of service requirements coming in from April 2020 onwards.
  2. *Social prescribing, is a means of enabling GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services. Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health.
  3. The CCG press office can be contacted on 01707 685141 or by email on