What is the PCN?
Primary Care Networks (PCN) have been established across the country since 2019 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan for Primary and Community Care. Each of these PCNs incorporates several local GP practices. The aim is for the PCN to provide a number of additional services and support for patients and the GP practices. As explained below, the idea is that greater benefits are achieved by providing the PCN’s additional resources centrally rather than spreading them thinly across each surgery. The PCN aims to join-up the work of General Practices, Community Services, Mental Health Services, Social Care, and various Voluntary Organisations – creating “holistic care”.
There are five PCNs covering the Borough of Bromley. Our Norheads Lane GP practice falls within the Five Elms PCN, along with GP practices at Stock Hill, Southborough Lane, Bromley Common, and Summercroft. These five GP practices provide care for a total of just over
45,000 patients. The Clinical Director for Five Elms PCN is Dr Taraq Waheed, who is based at Southborough Lane GP practice. [web address: www.FiveElmsPCN.com].
What services does our PCN provide?
The Five Elms PCN is currently setting up a multi-disciplinary team comprising Clinical
Pharmacists, Nurse Specialists, Care Co-ordinators, Paramedics, Physician Associates, Social Prescribers, and Mental Health Practitioners. The team already has 13 full and part-time people covering these roles, and more are now being recruited. Team members are located centrally, but they may also visit each of the five surgeries, typically one day a week. At the moment, patients are being referred to the PCN practitioners by the GPs. However, this may change in the future as new methods of working become established.
Representatives (usually two from the Executive Committees) of the five surgery PPGs attend the coordination meetings run by the Five Elms PCN, to discuss new ideas for PCN services and procedures.
Our PCN is progressively trialling new patient services, support for the GP practices, and the best way for patients to access them. One example of a recently introduced new service is a series of fortnightly Saturday clinics run by Practice Nurses at various locations. These are addressing the provision of smear test, COPD, Asthma, and Diabetic patient reviews. The surgeries are running their own clinical system searches to identify which patients fit the criteria and inviting them to the relevant PCN clinic. Please note that currently attendance at the PCN Saturday clinics is by invitation only.
Some more information on the various roles in the PCN team:
Clinical Pharmacists (CPs) are responsible for reviewing a patient’s medication and dealing with their enquiries. They work closely with the GP surgeries and pharmacists in medicine management and optimisation of medication for the patient. The PCN currently has five CPs.
The PCN has experienced Practice Nurses who also have specialist knowledge in areas such as chronic disease management – e.g., Diabetes, COPD, and Asthma.
A Physician Associate (PA) oversees care for patients beginning with history taking, then clinical assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and evaluation of care – under the supervision of a GP.
Care Co-ordinators (CCs) have responsibility for bridging the gap between patients and healthcare professionals by organising a personalised care plan focussed on the patient’s needs.
Mental Health Practitioner
Mental Health Practitioners (MHPs) work closely with others in the PCN team to address the needs of patients with mental health problems. Examples of their work include liaising with clinical pharmacists for medication reviews and linking to Social Prescribers for arranging community-based support.
The paramedics within the PCN may provide an alternative option to urgent GP home visits. They may also triage patients, advise on general healthcare, as well as perform specialist health checks such as ECGs.
Social Prescribers (SPs) working closely with other members of the PCN take a holistic approach to assessing the needs of a patient and arrange for appropriate local non-medical care activities. Examples of the activities include attendance at day-care centres, a variety of club activities, and assisted shopping.
LOCAL COMMUNITY CARE SERVICES
Useful Information on the local community care services available (No GP referral required).
BIGGIN HILL COMMUNITY CARE ASSOCIATION:
Tel: 01959 577400; email: bigginhillcommunitycare@gmail; website: www.bigginhillcommunitycare.org.