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Sponsored: How a compliance and content management system is helping PCNs to flourish

3 November 2020

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This article has been provided and sponsored by Quality Compliance Systems.

Author: Tracy Green, head of primary care at Quality Compliance Systems (QCS).

Covid-19 has infected over 800,000 people in the UK and has claimed nearly 45,000 lives since the first case was recorded back in January. It has also magnified a crisis in the NHS and put existing services under greater strain.

The coronavirus pandemic has also shown both the NHS and the care sector at its best. NHS staff have been praised in the CQC’s annual State of Care Report for ‘adapting quickly to work in different ways to keep people safe’.

However, the State of Care Report has also brought to light two key findings. First, it recognises the fact that the pandemic ‘has accelerated innovation’ and, second, it urges that the ‘learning and innovation’ demonstrated in a time of Covid is utilised ‘to develop health and social care for the future’.

PCNs: Negotiating the complex administrative maze

In defence of the NHS, it began exploring ways to forge strong partnerships and provide more holistic healthcare, before the Covid pandemic began. Sixteen months ago, in an attempt to improve collaboration and provide wider healthcare options, it launched Primary Care Networks (PCNs). There are now 1,250 PCNs in England.

But the Covid crisis has created new hurdles. Shining a light on the need for a faster roll-out of integrated PCN services, has left some GPs and managers who are members practices of PCNs facing even more challenges.

Suddenly, they have had a myriad of paperwork to fill out. On top of the Additional Role Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) workforce planning template for 2020/21, which must have been completed by 31 August 2020, each PCN should have developed a workforce strategy to take it through to 2023/24 by the end of October 2020.

Once the plans have been submitted, the commissioner will confirm the strategy with each PCN’s clinical director. Future strategies then need to be shared with NHS England and NHS Improvement Regional Teams by 30 November 2020.

However, as PCNs do not conform to the traditional general practice model, writing business case plans and future deployment strategies is not easy.

How QCS can help

How do clinical directors and PCN managers draw up a robust business plan? How do they know that their strategy is on the right track, and meets not just the immediate requirements, but also future milestones? How do they recruit effectively, and navigate the right funding streams, given that the landscape is very different to the one they are used to?

Clinical directors and PCN managers could choose to do their research themselves, but this may drag them away from their day-to-day duties. Much better, then, to seek the help of a leading compliance, content and technology provider such as Quality Compliance Systems (QCS).

QCS’s policy writing team, consisting of health professionals who work in the sector, have created a new PCN Management System, which will be launched soon.

The new system contains easy-to-read guides, factsheets, checklists and auditing templates, which enable clinical directors and PCN managers to create a powerful and robust business plan, negotiate complicated funding streams and identify, plan and recruit the right staff at the right time.

Why use the QCS PCN Management System?

The package is vastly different from the one that is currently being offered to GPs. Instead, QCS has focused on putting the right guidance in the hands of PCNs, clinical directors and network managers. The package includes a suite of job descriptions of existing and upcoming PCN roles, governance documents, including a business plan template, that are fully customisable for PCNs.

This template has been specifically designed to help PCNs to seamlessly navigate the ARRS funding landscape that PCNs must recruit through. But this is different to the funding stream that they are used to. On average, this funding, which covers salary and on costs, will enable each PCN to have approximately seven full-time Equivalent staff (FTE) in 2020/21 rising to 20 FTE staff by 2023/24.

QCS has also developed a workforce strategy template and a PCN Health self-assessment tool. The system also includes a service specification checklist, an ICS Factsheet and a range of policies and procedures, including a staff handbook and induction pack for both new starters and experienced professionals.

The Role Reimbursement factsheet

With PCNs offering patients a much greater diversity of services, the additional role reimbursement factsheet aims to provide clinical directors and PCN managers with an in-depth understanding on many of the different roles that PCNs require. The factsheet not only includes each individual job spec, but most importantly, it helps recruiters to identify the subtle differences between similar job descriptions. So it might be, for example, that before reading the factsheet, those responsible for recruitment were thinking of hiring a clinical pharmacist, when a clinical technician, on a lower salary, would in fact meet the criteria.

Job spec customisation

With PCNs coming in a range of different shapes and sizes, QCS enables PCN managers to customise job spec templates, so they can better determine the attributes and skillsets that are essential in a particular PCN.

If a population health management review, for example, reveals that the PCN is providing services to patients who predominately belong to an older demographic, then it may need to hire more occupational health experts, care-co-ordinators and first contact physiotherapists to meet their patient’s needs.

It is this enhanced level of visibility that will ensure that PCNs provide a more nuanced and targeted package of healthcare support for the millions of people in England who access them.

QCS is offering customers the PCN Management System at an introductory rate of £295. To take advantage of the offer, please contact the QCS sales team on 0333 405 3333 or email [email protected].