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Dr Pramit Patel, the new chair of the NHS Confederation PCN Network and PCN leader at Surrey Heartlands ICS, talks about collaboration
What motivated you to become a CD and chair of the PCN network?
My passion is to deliver a joined-up service where patients and residents get the best possible care and safest service. I could see from my early years as a hospital doctor how hospitals and GP practices work really hard in their own sectors but there seemed to be a missing link. Patients would often be bounced from sector to sector and I witnessed this, as a medical student, when my mother’s subdural haematoma management wasn’t closely monitored. From being a fiercely independent and hardworking lady she became unable to work, drive or look after herself. It was a life-changing event for the whole family.
With that experience I wanted to make a change for my patients and their loved ones and I could see real value in bringing GP colleagues together to co-design and co-deliver services, which led to the formation of our GP federation. Over the past 18 months, as a founding board member on the NHS Confederation PCN network, I have had the privilege of being part of a talented board. Now, being elected as network chair gives me the opportunity to serve and represent my peers.
What’s been the best moment of being a PCN CD?
Seeing practices coming together, breaking down silos and creating a shared purpose and vision. The introduction of additional roles reimbursement colleagues and the way all three practices have supported their development has been wonderful. Seeing the way our newer colleagues have added diversity and flair to practice teams has allowed us to be brave and innovative.
And the worst?
It can be tough to balance being a practising GP and being a leader, finding time to build relationships within practices and partner organisations outside of the PCN. But having the right team supporting me has made it a lot easier.
What has the experience taught you so far?
Don’t try to boil the ocean and do everything. Know it is okay to make mistakes as long as we learn. Be resilient and flexible but avoid saying yes to everything. It is okay to say no from time to time.
Where do you turn for support?
I have a coach who helps steer me through tricky moments and would thoroughly recommend this to all my CD colleagues. I had an NHS coach in wave one and now have one through my ICS role. The support coaches can give has been promoted through NHS England webinars and bulletins and there is more information at people.nhs.uk. I also have a supportive ICS primary care team.
Do you have any tips or hacks that help you get through the workload more efficiently?
I am fortunate to have a PCN management team. We also have a proactive federation whereby the management supports me in representing the PCN at boards, co-ordinating meetings and providing project leadership and management. A tip I was given by my coach was that effective teams are made up of leaders and managers and that delegation makes the role achievable.
Do you have a goal or a target in mind for your PCN and the PCN movement as a whole?
I want the PCN to be the multiagency, multidisciplinary delivery unit working with community providers and local government colleagues, developing services to address health and wellbeing inequalities, underpinned by robust population health management linked datasets.
Who or what inspires you?
Being able to improve my patients’ journeys but also learning continuously makes me want to push my boundaries. My ICS leader often says ‘assume positive intent’, believing that a person always meant well and also avoiding conspiracy theories. That helps drive my collaborative approach.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy road cycling with friends. My nine-year-old son and I also like playing FIFA on the PS4.
Practice Greystone House Surgery, Redhill, Surrey
PCN Care Collaborative, Redhill, Reigate and Merstham in East Surrey
Number of practices in PCN Three
Number of patients in PCN 48,000
PCN roles hired Four clinical pharmacists, four physician associates, one pharmacy technician, one care co-ordinator, one social prescribing link worker, two first contact physiotherapists
PCN roles to fill one physician associate, one mental health practitioner
Career to date
• 2006 Qualified Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) Guys, Kings & St Thomas’, London
• 2006-2008 Foundation Year 1 & 2 Kingston Hospital, London
• 2008-2011 GP vocational training programme, Worthing, West Sussex
• 2011 to present GP partner, Greystone House Surgery
• 2015 to present Founder and chair of the Alliance for Better Care GP Federation, Surrey/Sussex
• 2019 to present Care Collaborative PCN CD
• 2020 to present PCN leader, Surrey Heartlands ICS
• 2021 to present Chair, NHS Confederation PCN network