Policy into practice: exploring the implementation and potential of Primary Care Networks in the NHS in England



  • Prof Kath Checkland


  • Dr Jonathan Hammond (Research Fellow, The University of Manchester);
  • Sarah Parkinson (Analyst, RAND Europe);
  • Dr Manbinder Sidhu (Research Fellow, University of Birmingham);
  • Dr Lynsey Warwick-Giles (Research Fellow, The University of Manchester).

Panel members:

  • Dr Ben Milton (Clinical Director, Derbyshire Dales PCN; GP);
  • Olivia Butterworth (Head of Public Participation, NHS England and NHS Improvement);
  • Dr Samira Anane (BMA GP committee policy lead for education, training and workforce; GP);
  • Dr Becks Fisher (Senior Policy Fellow, The Health Foundation; GP).  

Primary Care Networks (PCNs) are groups of general practices incentivised to work together to deliver services for their patient population, and a key element of NHS England and Improvement’s Long-Term Plan. PCNs represent a significant opportunity for general practices to engage with the wider NHS to support innovative and more integrated service delivery. However, managing this alongside the delivery of day-to-day primary care services in a post-pandemic recovering NHS and society will not be straightforward. This interactive workshop will use early evidence as the springboard to explore where problems and opportunities might lie, engaging actively with experienced commentators to set out possible policy implications and solutions.

In the first part of the session, findings from the two national PCN evaluations will be presented within three overarching themes: Policy and history; Leadership, management and governance; System engagement. Attendees will be asked to decide which theme panel members will focus discussion on during the second part of the workshop. Panellists will offer perspectives from general practice, academia, think tanks, and policy-making. The discussion will draw on research findings, audience questions, and participants’ views of opportunities and challenges facing PCNs as in the context of post-pandemic recovery and prospective organisational reform in the English NHS.

To get the most from the session, attendees are encouraged to read summaries of the linked reports beforehand:

NIHR BRACE Rapid Evaluation Centre, ‘Early evidence of the development of primary care networks in England: a rapid evaluation study’, https://njl-admin.nihr.ac.uk/document/download/2034743

PRUComm, ‘Primary Care Networks: exploring primary care commissioning, contracting, and provision’, https://prucomm.ac.uk/assets/uploads/PRU-PCN_interim_report_FINAL.pdf