Primary Care Networks

Sarah Morland Partnership Manager
Article date
9 July 2019
Primary interest
Below is a press release from Berkshire West Integrated Care System

A new way of working for GP surgeries across Berkshire West (Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire) was launched on Monday 1 July, aimed at providing a more modern, joined up health service to more than half a million local people.

Clusters of local surgeries have teamed up to become Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and there are now 14 PCNs serving Berkshire West, with 6 covering the Reading area.  You can download the full list here.

PCNs will provide patients with a wider range of health and wellbeing services that are specifically geared towards the needs of their areas. This means that, over time, people like Social Prescribers, Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Community Mental Health professionals, Physicians Associates and Paramedics could all be based within a PCN.

The new way of working brings health and social care closer to people and is aimed at making the NHS more efficient and effective for patients and staff. By offering extra care options to people locally, and by making more use of technology for on line consultations and appointments, it’s hoped to free up clinicians time to concentrate on more urgent cases.

It’s the biggest transformation of primary care in the last 15 years and is part of the NHS Long Term Plan to revolutionise people’s physical, mental, emotional and social health care and make it more digitally driven.

PCNs across Berkshire West serve a population of 528,000 and they will all draw on the healthcare expertise from teams at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, the voluntary sector, social care teams and staff at the Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust.

Cathy Winfield, Chief Officer for the Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

PCNs take our reform of the NHS forward in great strides and will bring big benefits to the people we serve.


It’ll be so much easier for people to see a number of health and social care professionals on their doorstep, rather than having to trek into hospital for consultations and appointments. And a smarter use of technology means patients won’t have to keep repeating their medical history every time they see someone at the surgery.


The PCNs are also placing a greater emphasis on people’s social and emotional wellbeing and our strong partnership links with local authorities, the voluntary sector and community groups, is helping us identify what sort of care each Network’s neighbourhood wants. That way we can tailor the health and care services more closely to the local need and also identify who is best placed to deliver it.


It could be that someone who is feeling lonely or anxious is better off seeing a Social Prescriber who can point them in the direction of local social groups and activities, rather than seeing GP and asking for medication.


The knock on effect of all this is that GPs can concentrate on dealing with patients who have more urgent and complicated care needs.


There’s been a huge amount of work done, both behind the scenes with GPs and health teams, and also at events with local people, to make sure each PCN reflects and meets the specific needs of the populations they serve.


As neighbourhoods grow and evolve, we’ll continue our work with the people there to make sure the PCN facilities continue to meet their needs.