More than a third of practice managers spent at least 10 hours a week on forming their primary care networks last year, Cogora’s latest annual primary care survey has shown.
This figure equates to at least two extra hours of work each day or a minimum of two hours taken away from their full-time job.
On average, the 646 practice managers surveyed spent around six hours a week on establishing primary care networks. Just 6% spent no time on it at all.
The survey, ‘Primary Concerns 2019: The State of Primary Care’, captured the opinions of those in primary care just prior to the coronavirus crisis.
Success of PCNs
The NHS Long Term Plan (2019) aimed to create a ‘fully integrated community-based health care’ service, so the survey asked practice managers to rate their relationship with other practices in their PCN.
The vast majority (83%) of practice managers said they have forged ‘good’ or ‘very good’ connections with other surgeries. Just 0.6% rated it as ‘very bad’ and 1.7% as ‘bad’.
However, a quarter of practice managers said they believe PCNs have been detrimental to the quality of patient care. Just 12% rated it as having been positive.
As a whole, practice managers were more neutral in this regard, as half said it has been neither positive nor negative.
PCNs were introduced in the 2019/20 GP contract in England, with the expectation that all patients would be covered by a local network by 1 July 2019.
A Health Foundation report warned that PCNs were at risk of failing given that practices had ‘very little time’ to form and maintain them. The organisation also warned this could reduce the amount of time GPs spend with patients, which is already less than in other countries.
In an interview with Pulse, in November, Health Secretary Matt Hancock claimed PCNs have gone down ‘incredibly well’ and that they alleviate workload pressures on general practice.