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Primary Care Network initiative begins in England, but Tower Hamlets has a head start

Posted on: 1 July 2019

From today, 1 July 2019, 7,000 GP surgeries in England have come together to form more than 1,200 Primary Care Networks, yet in Tower Hamlets, we started the ball rolling more than 10 years ago, when the then Primary Care Trusts, Local Medical Council and GP surgeries in Tower Hamlets set up eight primary care networks.


Today, sees the formal launch of the Primary Care Network initiative which pools together all GP surgeries into a network (approximately 30k-50k patients each), offering the local population improved and better coordinated healthcare. Primary Care Networks (PCNs) are a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

PCNs are generally expected to be small enough to provide the personal care valued by both patients and healthcare professionals, but large enough to have impact and economies of scale through better collaboration between general practices and others in the local health and social care system, including community pharmacies.

The expanded network neighbourhood teams will have a wide range of health professionals from GPs, district nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, chiropodists as well as social and voluntary sector professionals working together.


In Tower Hamlets, we are fortunate to have started our journey 10 years ago. Dr Osman Ali, Clinical Director for Poplar & Limehouse Health Network commented on the exciting plans for his network.


"GP networks in Tower Hamlets have been established for a number of years, benefiting from formal collaborative relationships between our GP practices. Through this joint approach, quality, access and equality of GP services has improved for all our residents."


"In our network, we are employing a range of staff in new roles which include Social Prescribers, Clinical Pharmacists and Local Health Activators. However, with the establishment of the Primary Care Network Programme we hope to explore and expand roles to strengthen our workforce. This will further enhance the delivery of health services within the Aberfeldy, Chrisp St, Gough Walk and Limehouse practices."


Find out more about our Tower Hamlets Primary Care Networks

Watch the short NHS England animation on the concept of PCNs and how this new way of working enables health and other services to work together to provide better access for patients: