Organisations within Primary Care

Primary care includes general practice, community pharmacy, dentistry, and optometry (eye health) services. NHS England is responsible for the direct commissioning of primary care services. The most ambitious plans in a generation are transforming primary care services, offering patients with diverse needs a wider choice of personalised, digital-first health services than ever before.

Since 1 July 2019, all except a handful of GP practices in England have come together in around 1,300 geographical Primary Care Networks (PCNs) covering populations of approximately 30-50,000 patients.

PCNs aim to alleviate workload and allow GPs and primary care practitioners to deliver a new model of care for their patients and communities. PCNs involve general practices working together and with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local areas.

PCNs are expected to provide a wider range of primary care services to patients, involving a wider set of staff roles than might be feasible in individual practices, for example, first contact physiotherapy, extended access and social prescribing.

Primary care networks are also expected to think about the wider health of their population, taking a proactive approach to managing population health and, from 2020/21, assessing the needs of their local population to identify people who would benefit from targeted, proactive support. 

Integrated Care Systems (ICS) are a new way of planning and organising the delivery of health and care services in England at a larger scale than PCNs. Every ICS will have a critical role in ensuring that PCNs work with other community staff and use multi-disciplinary teams across primary and community care.

Securing Excellence in Primary Care’ (June 2012) outlined a commitment to developing Local Professional Networks (LPNs). The LPNs cover dentistry, pharmacy and eye health. They encourage service improvements and reduce health inequalities for their local communities.

LPN’s are hosted and supported by NHS England’s regional teams. They are part of a family of clinical networks across the commissioning and provider services that are working with NHS England, as a catalyst for positive change in the NHS.

LPNs are now established and are working closely with their Strategic Clinical Networks, Academic Health Science Networks and Clinical Senates, as well as commissioners, providers and patients, to deliver this aim.

The video below published by NHS England explains how LPNs are shaping services both locally and nationally.

NHS England have developed a framework for patient and public participation in primary care commissioning. The framework is a guide for primary care commissioners, in NHS England and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), on how to involve patients and the public in the commissioning of primary care services.

In addition, information for patients and the public on how to get involved in primary care commissioning has been produced, along with an easy read version.

The framework is designed to be read in conjunction with the NHS England Patient and Public Participation Policy and the Statement of Arrangements and Guidance on Patient and Public Participation in Commissioning.