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 Service (NWRS) which is the same system that is used to collect information about the general practice workforce.
This report includes England, CCG and PCN-level figures for Clinical Directors, Direct Patient Care Workers and Admin/Non-Clinical staff working in PCNs on 31 March 2022.
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 general 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 March 2022 collection showed a continuing increase in FTE at a greater rate than was seen prior to June 2021. 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 future collections. For this release, it should be noted that all September 2021, December 2021 and March 2022 FTE figures relating to Direct Patient Care job roles may be inflated as a result of this issue.
The completeness and coverage of PCN workforce data is improving and more PCNs are using the new NWRS. We are continuing to monitor progress with the aim of moving to a monthly extraction of PCN workforce data when data quality allows.
We are planning to introduce a quarterly publication using additional data sources to complement this publication, which will bring together FTE staff working in general practice, including ad-hoc locums, and those working in Primary Care Networks and potentially GPs working in other settings such as A&E streaming. The first experimental edition is scheduled for release on 19 May 2022 and will initially present FTE primary care workforce statistics for the direct patient care, nurse and admin/non-clinical staff groups, with the GP staff group being released in June, once final ad-hoc locum data becomes available. See https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/primary-care-workforce-quarterly-update for more information.
We are working continually to improve our publications and we welcome feedback from all users by email to: PrimaryCareWorkforce@nhs.net.
Links to other publications presenting healthcare workforce information can be found under Related Links.