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In July this year, Primary Care Networks (PCNs) will be five years old.

Since they were first born out of the NHS Long Term Plan back in 2019 – the flagship policy aimed at increasing capacity to meet increasing demand by bringing primary care and community services together, to improve patient access and outcomes they have grown and developed

Last month, NHS England published an updated Network contract directed enhanced service (DES) specification and associated guidance, which took effect from 1 April 2024. The latest contract has further cemented the PCN’s role in developing integrated neighbourhood teams and paved the way for them to take an even stronger leadership role in their area, with greater autonomy.  

They have been given help with cash flow as well as increased financial and staffing flexibility. The role of Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) has been strengthened after they became part of the core general practice funding in 24/25 and were widened to include enhanced nurses, giving PCNs have even more staffing flexibility and the role of the PCN Clinical Director has been simplified.  

Practices and PCNs have been supported to improve outcomes by the simplification of service requirements. They have also been helped to improve patient experience by increasing the capacity and access payments (CAPs) which will now start to be paid at any point in the year, once PCNs confirm they meet the simple criteria for payment.  

Besides that, the NHS England strategy is still very much focussed on PCNs improving patient experience of access using the ‘Modern General Practice Access’ model. This is based on tackling the 8am rush by  moving away from the 8am phone call queue and ‘first come, first served’ process for allocating appointments, by using technology such as cloud based telephony and online consultations in combination with new operational processes.   

Our Digital & Transformation Managed Service is evolving

Over the past five years, Redmoor Health has supported PCNs by providing comprehensive digital and transformation support. This has enabled them to achieve their DES targets effectively. Building on this foundation, last year we introduced a ‘Digital & Transformation Lead’ service, available for funding through the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS). This offering, our Digital & Transformation Managed Service, is specifically designed to alleviate the challenges of recruiting for crucial roles like the Digital and Transformation Lead, while equipping PCNs with extensive knowledge and support in digital transformation. 

As PCNs continue to develop, our services are evolving in tandem to meet their diverse needs. Recognising that not all networks progress at the same rate or in the same manner, we have adopted a more project-based strategy to foster the development of robust PCNs. For networks requiring comprehensive support comparable to a full D&T Lead role, we now offer:

  • Baseline Assessment: A thorough evaluation of your PCN’s digital and transformation capabilities, identifying strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. 
  • 12-Month Work Plan: Based on your assessment, we will craft a series of targeted 3 month digital and transformation projects to be implemented over the course of the year. 
  • Evaluation Report: After each project and at the end of the 12-month programme, we will compile a concise report reviewing PCN progress against deliverables and target outcomes. This report will include an updated assessment of digital and transformation maturity and help identify priorities for a Year 2 plan.

For PCNs that already have a D&T lead but require additional support, we offer flexible, short-term project contracts and tailored assistance to meet your specific needs in digital and transformation areas. 

Baseline Reporting & Project Based Work Plans

Our team assesses PCNs across six main digital and transformation themes, evaluating maturity levels across a range of topics.

Once we establish a baseline, we suggest projects that can create the most significant impact. For each project, we outline a clear scope, anticipated impact, and expected outcomes. Our customers can pick and choose from a menu of project support options including:

  • Communication Foundations: Developing and enhancing communication strategies to engage patients more effectively and ensure a consistent approach to improving patient interactions and outcomes. 
  • Access Level 1 – Explore: Integrating digital and physical entry points to enhance patient access, focusing on optimising patient journeys from initial contact through registration and follow-up. 
  • Access Level 2 – Optimise: Refining patient access strategies using comprehensive data analytics, enhancing online visibility, and streamlining navigation and care coordination. 
  • Understanding & Managing Demand & Capacity (Practices): Using data to understand and manage demand, ensuring continuity of care and identifying high-demand patients. 
  • Understanding & Managing Demand & Capacity (PCN): Strengthening the capacity and efficiency of PCNs with solutions like Apex and RPA to enhance service delivery and reduce variations. 
  • Workflow & Efficiencies: Streamlining both administrative and clinical workflows to improve operational efficiencies and patient service delivery. 
  • Health Inequalities: Implementing targeted training and development programmes to address health inequalities and ensure equitable access to healthcare services. 
  • Procurement Support: Ensuring effective procurement of new solutions by gathering PCN requirements, co-ordinating product demonstrations and evaluating solutions, ensuring optimal selection. 
  • Implementation Support: Supporting the effective implementation and integration of new systems, ensuring alignment with strategic health goals. 
  • PCN Hub Working: Supporting PCNs in optimising operations through the development of specialised hubs for centralised services.

Our projects are designed to address the dynamic needs of PCNs covering a wide range of areas from operational enhancements to digital transformations. We deliver clear impact and measurable outcomes within a 3 month timeframe, clearly demonstrating the value of our services. For any assistance related to your digital and transformation challenges or other projects, don’t hesitate to contact our team today. We are here to support you in every step of your journey towards improved healthcare delivery. 

Dillon Sykes, Digital and Transformation Lead

Blog by Dillon Sykes

Dillon has over 30 year’s experience working with and for the NHS which has given him an excellent understanding of NHS and commercial providers.

During his career he has a proven track record working with NHS organisations providing a sound knowledge and practical implementation of policy, products and services. This includes helping healthcare organisations implement health tech innovations, ranging from small team change to large organisational transformation.

His substantial experience of managing change helped many GP Practices to move from ‘legacy’ appointment systems to a digital first environment ensuring patients could access technology needed to improve care.

Now in his role as Senior Programme Manager Dillon will work with ICBs, PCNs and Practices to help understand the digital agenda and be a resource to meet the challenges ahead to successfully improve care for staff and patients.

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