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The final iteration of the PCN Network DES, released at the end of March, called for PCNs to develop an access improvement plan to be agreed with the integrated care board (ICB) by May 12 in order to receive the capacity and access payment. Sarah Forster, strategic business and transformation manager at Medics PCN in Bedfordshire, shares her reaction and plan to meet this new demand
Medics PCN has been very positive and collaborative about creating the access improvement plan, although I do know that’s not the case for other PCN GPs.
In the first instance, I talked it through our initial thoughts on the PCN DES with my clinical director Dr Manraj Barhey. This typically involves me reading everything, digesting it, then outlining the ask.
We had already had some initial discussions with our core team of five practice managers, five clinical leads and a PCN operations manager on short term and longer-term improvements.
Since then, I spent time reviewing the capacity and access payment guidance, which I’ve actually found to be a really helpful document.
After reading this, it was obvious that the improvement plan could not be written in isolation or just by senior management.
Therefore we have arranged an afternoon workshop with all practice managers and some clinical leads involved to go through the ‘preparation phrase’ of the plan. This is scheduled for the first week of May due to the tight timelines.
The capacity and access document has links to support the initial assessment and my plan is to go through the three areas in some detail with all five of my practices in two weeks’ time:
Prior to the day, I will send out some links to the team where they can obtain the required information for the brainstorm.
In addition to this, in Luton, our PCN leads work fairly closely together and we have a virtual meeting every two weeks.
During the last meeting we had an in-depth discussion on how we can approach the plan and one of the managers shared an artificial intelligence triage tool, Klinik, that he uses in his PCN which we could also consider to support access.
Along with some of our short-term access improvement ideas, I am hoping the planned collaborative workshop can help inform what our PCN improvement plan will look like.
Our local integrated care board (ICB) had advised that they are likely to ask for the plan in the same template given in Annex B of the capacity and access guidance.
All in all I think it’s a positive move, although I have concerns some PCN’s won’t continue with the great PCN DES deliverables which are now business as usual.
Another issue is that the anticipated ‘GP recovery plan’ from NHS England has not been released yet and it may not come out until after the PCN’s have submitted their own improvement plan which is less than ideal.