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Publication, Part of

Primary Care Network Workforce, 30 September 2021

Current Chapter

Primary Care Network Workforce, 30 September 2021


Primary Care Networks were created in July 2019 to provide accessible and integrated primary, mental health, and community care for patients. The PCN contract is a Directed Enhanced Service and aims to increase the primary care workforce by 26,000 by 2024. The bulk of the PCN workforce consists of Direct Patient Care staff, funded by the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS), and each PCN has the flexibility and autonomy to determine which roles are required to meet the specific needs of their local populations. Initially, recruitment focused on clinical pharmacists and social prescribing link workers, with more roles being included over subsequent years.

Information about the PCN workforce is provided directly by each PCN, and recorded in the National Workforce Reporting System (NWRS) which is the same system that is used to collect information about the GP practice workforce. This collection tool has now been replaced by a new and more intuitive collection system, but will continue to collect the same data items.

This is the seventh publication of information relating to the Primary Care Network (PCN) workforce and complements figures in the General Practice Workforce series of Official Statistics. The report includes England, CCG and PCN-level figures for Clinical Directors, Direct Patient Care Workers and Admin/Non-Clinical staff working in PCNs on 30 September 2021.

The level of detail in the information that we can collect about each individual varies, as there are different ways that individuals can be contracted to work for their PCN.

Some staff work directly for the PCN, including Clinical Directors, administrative workers, and some Direct Patient Care staff. These individuals may have been newly recruited to the PCN, or could be staff transferring some or all of their working hours from a GP practice or other organisation.

Alternatively, an individual may be employed by a member organisation within the PCN – such as a hospital trust or charity – and deployed to work for the PCN.

In both cases, details about the staff member, including the hours worked for the PCN, are recorded in the NWRS.

However, in some cases, a role – for example a physiotherapist – is not staffed permanently by a specific individual. Instead, the working hours are covered by a group of physiotherapists, employed by another organisation such as the local CCG, and deployed to the PCN as a “contracted service,” which up until the September 2020 release were referred to in this publication series as “pooled resource”. In these cases, the providing organisation holds a contract with the PCN to deliver the physiotherapy service and supplies appropriately qualified staff, possibly on a rota’d basis. Where the healthcare provision is covered by a contracted service of this nature, it is not possible to identify the separate individuals working within the PCN and in these cases, the PCN provides us with information about the average weekly working hours covered by that “contracted service”. This means that although we can calculate proxy full-time equivalent (FTE) figures relating to the service, no information about headcount or workforce characteristics can be inferred. This means that headcount figures presented in the accompanying Bulletin do not include provision from these “contracted services.”

In July 2021, we introduced a new version of the National Workforce Reporting Service (NWRS). The new workforce reporting service is easier to use and has been designed with direct feedback from users. In the contracted services section of the new NWRS, users now need to set the average weekly hours to zero where that service has not been used in the latest period. Previously, users marked the relevant record as inactive. 

The contracted services data in the September 2021 collection showed a larger than usual increase in FTE. It is possible that this is in part due to PCNs leaving hours information untouched within records for services they have not used, rather than setting them to zero. Guidance has since been issued directly to PCNs to explain this process and it is expected that this will result in more accurate contracted services information being submitted for the December 2021 collection.  For this release, it should be noted that all September FTE figures relating to Direct Patient Care job roles may be inflated as a result of this issue. 

As the completeness and coverage of PCN workforce data is improving and more PCNs are using the new NWRS, we will be considering moving to a monthly extraction of PCN workforce data in early 2022.

We are working continually to improve our publications and we welcome feedback from all users by email to:

Links to other publications presenting healthcare workforce information can be found under Related Links.

Full-Time Equivalent is a standardised measure of the workload of an employed person and allows for the total workforce workload to be expressed as the equivalent number of full-time staff. 1.0 FTE equates to full-time work of 37.5 hours per week, an FTE of 0.5 would equate to 18.75 hours per week.


FTE Direct Patient Care staff

Of which 2,626 FTE are pharmacists - the most common job role within the PCN workforce


FTE directors


Comprised of:

148 FTE GP Medical Clinical Directors

28 FTE Nurse Clinical Directors

8 FTE Direct Patient Care Clinical Directors

19 Non-clinical Director


FTE other Admin/Non-clinical staff

Comparisons between periods are not advised since it is likely that, as a greater proportion of active PCNs begin to engage with the NWRS collection tool, staff who were in post in previous quarters are being recorded for the first time in the most recent quarter. See the Data Quality - September 2021 section for more information.

Last edited: 17 November 2021 4:07 pm