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Primary Care Networks

Primary Care Networks

Primary Care Networks

Following NHS's Long Term Plan published in January 2019, groups of GP practices will start to work together in Primary Care Networks (PCNs) with a range of local providers, including across primary care, community services, social care and the voluntary sector, to offer more integrated, personalised, coordinated health and social care to their local populations.

GP practices are under considerable time pressure to get their PCN network agreements signed. Although network agreements need not actually be signed before the 15 May deadline, they must be completed by 30 June if certain payments are to be backdated to 1 April.

Our dedicated team of primary care lawyers have the experience and legal expertise to help you every step of the way, please contact Mark Jarvis on 020 7665 0880 or Oliver Pool on 0117 314 5429.

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PCN Structures

Although NHS England released a standard document, it contains a lot of gaps which networks are expected to complete themselves - particularly when it comes to governance and financial provisions.

We are currently advising PCNs across the country on what structure to use to establish their networks, and on the governance and financial provisions that should be included in their network agreements. Most practices recognise that, for example, it is risky to sign network agreements if the decision-making provisions do not reflect the needs of their particular PCN - and any practice acting as a lead practice in engaging staff will want some reassurance that its financial liabilities are backed off properly in the network agreement. We are happy to help practices with this.

Network Agreement Support

A mandated standard form Network Agreement has been issued by NHS England, and practices will need to sign this by 30 June if they want to ensure that the initial £1.76 per patient is backdated to 1 April. The template Network Agreement works well as far as it goes, but key sections have been left blank for networks to fill in, including schedules dealing with governance and decision making, and also financial issues.

It is very important, particularly for lead practices, that the financial provisions are completed, to ensure that the other practices contribute if the lead practices incurs additional costs as a result of its role.

As with any form of joint working, ensuring that the intended working arrangements are accurately reflected in the governance documentation is key to avoiding disputes and ensuring the parties understand the basis upon which they are working.

How Can We Help You?

We offer a fixed price package to support PCNs with their initial setup. This includes the following:

  • gathering information on the PCN members and their intentions so that we can advise on or "vet" your chosen or existing structure and ensure it is workable;
  • adding the relevant content to the Network Agreement to bring it to a stage where it can be signed;
  • ensuring that any employment contracts are structured in such a way as to minimise any VAT payable; and
  • advising on data sharing agreements.

We have also been supporting PCNs through face-to-face support sessions and have shaped our services around the needs and concerns of a range of GP practices and providers.

Advice should be taken in parallel from specialist medical accountants, and we can put you in touch if you do not already have the necessary support, or work with your existing advisers. We have close ties with AISMA and ICAEW and have been working closely with leading specialists in the sector to ensure a comprehensive and robust approach to developing your PCN.

This work can be completed on a fixed fee (price on application tailored to your circumstances).

PCN Timeline

Date  Action
Jan-Apr 2019 Practices meet to discuss forming PCNs and begin to put together the Network registration requirements
By 29 Mar 2019 NHS England and GPC England jointly issue the Network Agreement and 2019/20 Network DES Specification
By 15 April 2019  Primary Care Networks submit registration information to their CCG
July 2019 Network DES, the new GP practice contract, goes live across England
July 2019 Agreements with other community organisations are concluded
July 2019 Key appointments are made and additional funding alerts
By April 2020 Clinical pharmacists and social prescribers are appointed in PCNs
By April 2021 First Contact Physiotherapists are available in PCNs and Primary Care training hubs are set up
By April 2022 Increased focus on heart and lung disease prevention, and Community Paramedics join PCNs

Download our latest PCN information sheet and check out our latest articles

For specialist legal advice please contact Mark Jarvis on 020 7665 0880 or Oliver Pool on 0117 314 5429.

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