Primary Care Networks (PCNs)

An Offer to Support PCNs, CDs, Managers and Practices from Wessex Facilitation4 offers diag

Wessex facilitation are a team of health professionals (3 Drs and 1 nurse) who for 10+ years have offered coaching, training, support and organisational development to primary care in Wessex. We have worked with over 50 GP practices offering facilitation for strategic and operational reviews. Funded by HEE, CCGs and practices. From the foundation of working with practices and GPs we natural grew into working with PCNs. We understand that every practice and PCN is different and have experience of working with those who are reluctant and feel change is being forced on them, through to those who see PCNs as the next big opportunity. We see our role not to ‘fit’ every practice or PCN into a single mould. Rather to insure every party is clear about what they want and communicates this effectively with other key players. From this to constructively plan how to make the most of the shifting priorities, opportunities and funding that exists. We do this by working with individuals, teams, practices, boards and wider stakeholder groups. Our experience has taught us that relationships are central to this work of reaching consensus, identifying priorities, implementing decisions and holding each other accountable.  Also frequently important are bravely tacking issues that sometimes have been left unaddressed or unresolved for far too long, naming and working through these ‘points of pain’ that often drain an organisation of good will and enthusiasm can bring surprising and speedy results. We have experience of linking together and facilitating meaningful conversations, development and planning meetings between groups of CDs, practices and managers. While always happy to provide one to one coaching we believe the following programmes are particularly relevant at this time (more information below and on our website). If you want to look at the 4 key offers we have found most useful in relation to PCN work have a look at the following 4 programmes see :







Common problems range from getting the right people involved, keeping everyone engaged, feeling disempowered or change weary to not knowing the resources, processes or clinical leadership skills that can enable collaborative working at a PCN level.


How we work is an initial no cost, no obligation conversation to clarify the issues and plan a response. Examples of work we have done include, helping stakeholders review their priorities and how to achieve them, deciding on the leadership required and allocation of this, developing key roles and projects from planning and learning from COVID to opportunities in DESs or through new structures of ICP and ICSs. It can be helping a board to operate most effectively and efficiently. It may be specific support for a CD or lead practice manager. If appropriate, we will suggest a course of action using one of our facilitators or wider network of CDs, Managers or Coaches. We may suggest someone who has been through a similar situation or with specific skills to enable and progress a challenging piece of work linked to working together. This might be leading a meaningful review of a collaborative piece of work e.g. COVID or planning to deliver one or more DES.


From our work with practices and PCNs there are several key workstreams that that can be funded from PCN development funds. At Wessex Facilitation we are all involved in primary care education and base our hourly and day rates on standard educationalist fees to offer a highly competitive service. We are very well aware of just how hectic things are in primary care and how little spare capacity there is to spend time planning for the future. Although most GPs agree that with COVID things are already looking different and there are many threats and challenges or decisions and opportunities (depending on your perspective) that practices and PCNs need to be prepared for.


For more information contact

Background to our work:

We have been working with NHS England and the CCGs in Wessex to support the GP Resilience Programme since 2016 and have been providing practice facilitation via the Professional Development Unit (PDU) at HEE Wessex (‘The Deanery’) for several years prior to this.  Through this work, we have observed the potential difficulties which different GP practices often experience when starting to work together, but also the significant achievements, which can be realised by collaborative working between practices.  This work is developing further, rapidly, as practices have formed into Primary Care Networks, (PCNs).

The development from single-handed practitioners to the planned ‘fully expanded community multidisciplinary teams’ described in the NHS Long Term Plan ( over the last 70 years is pretty rapid in human evolutionary terms, and Facilitation can be highly effective in opening up, and starting to address, some of the barriers to progress which often emerge in this process.

Wessex Facilitation understands the workings of NHS general practice.  We understand the daily reality of trying to move your business forward whilst wanting and needing to see patients simultaneously.  We understand that budgets for ‘strategic development’ and ‘project management’ don’t really exist within the GMS/PMS contract payments, and that NHS contracts often require you to deliver before you have time to plan as effectively as you would wish.  We anticipate that in some situations a PCN Clinical Director could be hard pressed to deliver the dramatic change envisioned by the new Network Contract in just 2 sessions a week, without excellent team support and a well-designed plan.

We offer a realistic and bespoke approach to help you address your practice issues, primary care team building, working at scale venture and new Network formation.  Whether you are currently working at the forward edge of change and looking to innovate further, or whether you are finding the new changes unwelcome and difficult to address, skilled facilitation can help.  We passionately believe that facilitation should empower you to achieve your goals, and that this is best delivered through a personal approach, rather than a standardised corporate method.  We therefore offer a fully confidential, trusting and bespoke approach which is underpinned by valid experience and GP-educational expertise.

If you would like to discuss development of your PCN, or for your PCN Clinical Director, please feel free to contact one of us for an initial chat about how we could support you.

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