The findings come as the NHS Confederation’s PCN Network has reviewed how the first year of primary care networks has gone and what lies ahead for the next twelve months, based on the views of its members across the country (Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Coombs).

Pharmacists, general practitioners, and nurses need more flexibility and autonomy to work in a way that is more responsive to their local populations, a report on the Primary Care Networks (PCNs) has said.

Reviewing the first year of the PCNs, NHS Confederation’s PCN Network said “a better balance between fulfilling contractual requirements and doing what is best for patients, as well as more time to develop local relationships” needed to ensure the delivery of services expected of them.

PCNs were launched in July 2019 to bring general practices together with other primary care and community organisations in England to enable more integrated services for their local communities.

“The last 12 months have presented a real mix of opportunities and challenges for PCNs. The extent to which they have progressed has been contingent on good leadership capability, a history of strong local relationships and a clear vision of what they want to achieve,” commented Ruth Rankine, director of the PCN Network.

“There have no doubt been obstacles, the greatest one being coronavirus, but in spite of and in some cases, because of these challenges, many have been able to make significant progress.”

Rankine added that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the value of collaboration and integration across health and care.

“To do this effectively, clinical directors and their managers need more time to engage in strategic decision-making, as well as greater freedom and autonomy to respond to the specific needs of their communities,” she noted.

“Only then will we retain strong leaders in clinical director roles and get the innovation in primary care that is at the heart of the NHS Long Term Plan and that we have seen a glimpse of in the response to Covid-19.”

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