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In 2021 the NHS NWLA and NHS Confederation were commissioned by the Lancashire and South Cumbria Primary Care Network (PCN) Development Oversight - Group to provide a safe space in which primary care leaders could collectively explore their vision for the role of PCNs in the developing system.

The NHS NWLA adopted a bespoke approach to each of the five distinct ‘places’ in Lancashire and South Cumbria, to ensure engagement and collaboration. These are:

  • Central Lancashire
  • Fylde Coast
  • Morecambe Bay
  • Pennine Lancashire
  • West Lancashire

We worked with Clinical Directors to shape a bespoke analytical and diagnostic approach for each, which included facilitated workshops, one-to-one conversations, and confidential surveys. This tailored approach allowed rich intelligence and insights on the PCNs readiness and view of the emerging landscape This then formed a series of recommendations for the PCN Development Oversight -Group to own, shape and influence in the wider system.

The requirements and capabilities of PCNs

The insights and recommendations that have emerged from the consultation and engagement can be categorised into the following three themes:

  1. Leadership
  2. Building relationships across the ICS
  3. Management and technical priorities

There are many interconnections across the three categories, including several key leadership themes around well-defined clinical, collaborative and systems leadership approaches for those working in Clinical Director roles. Whilst there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, there is a clear requirement for shared understanding across the system, of the real benefits and value of PCN engagement and collaborative working. Alongside this there is a clear indication of the importance of relationship building with communities and voluntary, community, faith, and social enterprise organisations as key parts of the emerging system. PCNs are uniquely positioned to shares resources and intelligence with one another and to positively impact other health and care organisations and local populations.

The report also highlighted the advantages of resilient PCN leadership in challenging times and the benefits of developing a clear strategic vision at PCN level. This in turn, facilitates a strong and collaborative primary care ‘voice’ across the wider system. This voice will be crucial in ensuring that there is a clear understanding of the role and expertise of PCNs in the new system, alongside their extensive local knowledge at place level. There is recognition across the system of the immense pressure under which the whole of primary care is operating, further emphasising the need for a strong voice in all future system collaboration.


“For PCNs to be successful, they will need strong local partnerships with community, acute, mental health, local authority and voluntary services to deliver care to local populations.” A participant.


How PCNs can lead the way

The PCN Futures Report is a crucial piece of diagnosis which will allow the PCN Development Oversight -Group to set the context for primary care across the Lancashire and South Cumbia ICS and to understand the current capabilities and needs of PCNs. In turn this will allow them to emphasise and develop those recommendations that will have the greatest impact and to explore ‘what good looks like’ in relation to effective PCN and integrated system working.

Some of the recommendations of the report can be implemented readily and at low cost, whilst others need further exploration of their feasibility and the impact they will have. The learning and best practice can then be shared across the other ICS regions and beyond.

To view the full report please click here.



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