PCNs could increase GP workloads

Many professionals fear that NHS England’s plans for Primary Care Networks (PCNs) do not consider GPs and that they could increase the workload for doctors.

Moreover, according to recent research, less than a quarter of salaried GPs have been consulted about the plans.

All GP practices across England are expected to join a PCN, which will bring practices together across patient populations of around 30,000 to 50,000 patients, by July.

However, the deadline for submitting applications to form the networks has passed, and it would appear that only partner GPs have been heavily involved. Unfortunately, however, the latest information from NHS Digital shows that partners now make up less than half of the total GP workforce.

Results of the survey found that, of the partners polled, half believe that PCNs will increase their workload. Moreover, many GPs fear that PCNs will mean that they will have less control over the services they offer, and some GPs see PCNs as yet another reorganisation, taking up precious GP time and wasting resources.

Meanwhile, a separate survey suggests that almost one in three GP partners think that their Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has tried to influence the makeup of PCNs in their area.

However, some people think that the introduction of PCNs will mean that practices will need to employ a wider variety of staff, and that GPs will eventually be outnumbered by other healthcare professionals who are expected to grow in number by 20,000 over the next five years.