“The sector needs to be heard”: New network created for GP federations

By - Primary Care Journal

“The sector needs to be heard”: New network created for GP federations

In establishing a Primary Care Federation Network that unites primary care federations across the country, the NHS Confederation has continued to broaden its membership while emphasising “the benefits of system working and collaboration. ”  

The roughly 200 GP Federations dotted around England will now be able to participate in a new national membership body, organised by the NHS Confederation.

Previously, GP federations of varying sizes (ranging from 10 to 85 practices) operated largely independently as economies of scale delivering services to their combined patient communities. This has made these federations into crucial organisations in their respective localities but without the unified voice necessary to be quite as influential on the national stage. With the creation of this new body, however, there is a newfound opportunity for primary care professionals to be “appropriately represented and actively involved in shaping future healthcare strategy” according to Ruth Rankine, Director of Primary Care at the NHS Confederation.

A Primary Care Federation Network will offer members tailored products such as bulletins, briefings, and events, as well as opportunities to influence and inform national guidance and forthcoming legislation. Early on, its priority will include ensuring that primary care continues to receive support to deal with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and that federations are recognised as an integral part of the development of future primary care strategy. Further, the new network will help improve efficiency in the primary care sector by providing patient services that can be commissioned at scale across multiple areas to suit local needs.

GP Federations, by virtue of their size and management, are also able to represent primary care at an integrated care systems level through their leadership role within their local primary care networks.

This capability could be potentially important as Rankine has said:“ the NHS faces an almighty challenge in the coming years with diagnostics, elective activity and long-term condition management all greatly disrupted by coronavirus and added to that, we are just scratching the surface of what the long-term impact will be on the nation’s physical and mental health. Tackling this will require a coordinated effort across primary care as the front door of the NHS for most patients and so, the sector needs to be heard and supported to deliver. ” 

Fiona Adamson, Chair of the NHS Confederation’s Primary Care Federation Network, went on to say that “[across] the country, many federations are already valued members of their local systems… this is an exciting time for Federations and our practice and PCN partners. I am looking forward to exploring with our members what the role of federations across ICSs and ICPs could be. I would love all federations to sign up so that we can shape this discussion together. ” 

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