Primary care services are the first point of contact in the healthcare system, acting as the ‘front door’ to the NHS. These services include: GPs, community pharmacies, dental care and eye health services.
What is a primary care network (PCN)?
A primary care network consists of groups of general practices working together, and in partnership with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local area, to offer more personalised, coordinated health and social care to the people living in their area.
There are 42 PCNs in Kent and Medway and the majority of networks serve between 30,000 to 50,000 patients. Networks will be aligned to their regional integrated care partnership - this will support them to work more closely with other health and care partners in the area.
There are seven primary care networks in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley, made up of 28 GP practices:
There are 16 primary care networks in east Kent, made up of 67 GP practices:
There are 10 primary care networks in Medway and Swale, made up of 62 GP practices:
There are nine primary care networks in west Kent, made up of 53 GP practices:
The networks were established in 2019 and have already begun working together to provide more services outside the standard surgery opening times.
As they develop further, primary care networks will:
- introduce new healthcare professionals to GP practices, such as specialist nurses, paramedics and pharmacists,
- make better use of technology to support patients,
- offer appointments that work around your life with shorter waiting times. You’ll be able to book on the NHS app for online consultations, phone and face-to-face appointments.
The Kent and Medway Primary Care Strategy
As part of Kent and Medway's response to the NHS Long Term Plan, we have created an ambitious strategy which outlines how we plan to improve practice-based primary care services in Kent and Medway over the next five years.
The strategy has been created by GP colleagues, commissioners, patients and other community service providers, who are working together to make sure we have safe, effective and good quality GP services now and in the future.
Together, we will:
- Support primary care networks to provide a wider range of services based on the health needs of the people they care for, including a social prescribing service to enable GPs to refer patients to a link worker who will support them to access services provided by voluntary or community services to combat loneliness and social isolation.
- Support practices to work with each other and other healthcare providers in the county, so care is more joined-up and services work better together.