The NHS was created over 70 years ago to provide care to us all. Over the years, the population has grown, and healthcare needs and treatments have all changed dramatically. Therefore the way GP, or Primary Care, services work also needs to change.
As patients, we need to be able to access a wider range of services for longer times during the day, evening and weekends. We also need to be treated by the best clinician for the problem.
To meet these needs, the NHS has created its Long-term Plan where GP practices work together and with other local health and social care organisations to share resources providing a fuller and more robust and sustainable service for us all.
These groups of organisations are known as Primary Care Networks, or PCNs. There are around 1250 PCNs in England each serving a community of between approximately 30,000 to 50,000 patients. Each PCN is contracted to enable a greater provision of pro-active, personalised and co-ordinated health and social care close to home.
Willow Group is part of the Gosport Central Primary Care Network along with other local services to ensure our patients receive the care they need when they need it and close to home.
Changes we have already made include a wider range of staff roles including physiotherapists, clinical pharmacists (who can undertake structured medication reviews), a paramedic and social prescribers.
We have regular virtual ward rounds with local care homes to support staff look after and prevent residents going into hospital. Our Acute Visiting Team, which includes advanced nurse prescribers and our paramedic, goes out to acutely unwell people who are housebound. The team also supports people recovering after a stay in hospital and works with GPs to support patients they have a particular worry about and see them before they get sick.
Our social prescribing team consists of health connectors who see people who access our service regularly but don’t have overly medical needs. Instead they provide assistance and liaise with other agencies to enable people to live independently. The health connectors work with our health and well-being coaches who work closely with individuals to help them set goals to improve their lifestyle, for example lose weight, take more exercise, etc.
We have many more plans in the pipeline for future initiatives to promote good health and ensure those who need care receive it promptly and appropriately.
NHS England has produced this video on how PCNs work.