NHS England explains its strategy for the gradual introduction of new service requirements for primary care networks

Doctor + clipboard working on laptop

NHS England has published Primary care networks—plans for 2021/22 and 2022/23, which outlines the strategy for the gradual introduction of new service requirements for primary care networks (PCNs) over the next 18 months rather than a full introduction in October as originally planned. The strategy also explains how PCNs will be able to access funding for their activities.

In addition, the document identifies five areas of focus for PCNs:

  • improving prevention and tackling health inequalities in the delivery of primary care
  • supporting better patient outcomes in the community through proactive primary care
  • supporting improved patient access to primary care services 
  • delivering better outcomes for patients on medication 
  • creating a more sustainable NHS.

The document acknowledges that, although PCNs have demonstrated their value as a basis for local partnership working during the COVID-19 pandemic, general practice remains under significant pressure—supporting the response to the pandemic while caring for its registered populations and tackling a backlog of chronic disease management. Therefore, the new service requirements will not be introduced in full from October 2021, but will be phased in gradually over the next 18 months to give PCNs the maximum possible time to prepare for the forthcoming changes.