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Collaboration with non-GP providers ‘a requirement’ for networks from 2020

by Beth Gault
5 April 2019

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Practices will need to work with non-GP providers as ‘a requirement’ in primary care networks from 2020, according to NHS contract documents.
Documents have revealed that the network contract DES will be changed from 2020/21 to include these new rules.
It follows the news that primary care networks ‘should include’ pharmacies, dental practices and optometrists, according to contract guidelines.
The new agreement says other organisations will be able to attend meetings of the core network practices to ‘participate in discussions, subject to the agreed decision-making processes’, according to the agreement.
The agreement adds: ‘PCNs will increasingly need to work with other non-GP providers, as part of collaborative primary care networks, in order to offer their local populations more personalised, coordinated health and social care.
‘To support this, the Network Contract DES will be amended from 2020/21 to include collaboration with non-GP providers as a requirement.
‘The Network Agreement will be the formal basis for working with other non-GP providers and community based organisations. Commissioners should consider how other services could be aligned with the PCN footprints in future.’
The guidance also stated that the success of primary care networks would ‘depend on the strengths of its relationships’, including non-GP providers.
‘Non-GP providers will be essential in supporting delivery,’ it said.
The mandatory network agreement said primary care networks would include GP practices – which are responsible for delivering the requirements of the network contract DES – and ‘any other organisations’.
BMA GP Committee chair, Richard Vautrey, said the new requirement will support the existing workforce and help provide care that ‘cannot be done by practices alone’.
‘Many of the areas that a PCN will work on in the coming years will need the support of the existing workforce in the community and one of the goals of these changes is to reinvigorate a genuine primary health care team with practice leadership,’ he said.
‘So for instance, providing more anticipatory care to patients identified with greater needs such as those with severe frailty cannot be done by practices alone but will need the involvement of colleagues in community care.’
Our sister publication Pulse, where this article was first published, recently reported that CCGs were trying to force practices into networks without consideration for working relationships or GP opinion.
It was also reported that pariah practices would still have to be part of primary care networks, as their patients deserve care, according to RCGP chair Helen Stokes-Lampard. 
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse