The primary care network handbook

This handbook offers options to groups of practices looking to establish a primary care network (PCN) British Medical Association (BMA)

PCNs are groups of general practices working closely together, with other primary and community care staff and health and care organisations, providing integrated services to their local populations. The BMA have created a handbook which provides advice and offers options to groups of practices looking to establish a PCN.

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It includes detailed guidance on

  • Governance structures
  • Internal governance and decision making
  • Potential PCN structures and employment options
  • PCN funding
  • PCN future workforce options

Full document: The primary care network handbook

Further detail: Primary Care Networks (PCNs) | BMA

The NHS Winter Crisis

This Reformer Thoughts series brings together healthcare professionals to discuss what can be done to prevent the winter crisis from recurring. Examining challenges such as workforce supply issues, funding and a lack of systems integration, the paper proposes recommendations for tackling these problems | Reform


This publication looks at the multifaceted nature of winter crises, touching on the challenges posed by workforce supply issues, funding and a lack of joined up approaches in primary and secondary care. It is suggested that digital technologies could play a greater role in helping the NHS manage capacity and demand for care in the long-term.

They stress the need to reform the way health and social care services are delivered and funded, as well as the specific challenges facing services such as mental health and community nursing. This series presents a forward-looking assessment of the NHS and suggests that much can still be done to prevent winter crises from recurring.

Read the full publication here







Home to the unknown: getting hospital discharge right

This research explored patients’ unplanned stays in hospital and what it was like for them after they had returned home | British Red Cross

The research sought to reveal: patients’ experiences of being discharged from hospital; hospital systems and healthcare professionals’ experiences and perceptions of the discharge process; and what it was like for people returning home from hospital feeling more or less prepared.

As a result, it aimed to explore the impact of discharge on recovery and wellbeing and to identify opportunities to improve systems, communication and support.

Based on the experience of the British Red Cross and the research, the report argues:

  1. There is a substantial opportunity for commissioners and providers to harness the power of non-clinical support, including the voluntary and community sector (VCS), to relieve the pressure on the NHS and to create better outcomes for people and improved patient flow within and between health and social care providers.
  2. Every point of hand-off between clinical teams in hospital and from the hospital to the community is a potential point of success or failure for patient recovery. The report recommends that there is a clinical responsibility to ensure the effective management of these transitions, so that there is continuity of care and patients don’t fall through the gaps between teams.
  3. The report recommends that a five part ‘independence check’ should be completed as part of an improved approach to patient discharge – prior to discharge or within 72 hours of going home. This would help to inform the setting of a realistic discharge date and would include assessing:
  • Practical independence (for example, suitable home environment and adaptations)
  • Social independence (for example, risk of loneliness and social isolation, if they have meaningful connections and support networks)
  • Psychological independence (for example, how they are feeling about going home, dealing with stress associated with injury)
  • Physical independence (for example, washing, getting dressed, making tea) and mobility (for example, need for a short-term wheelchair loan)
  • Financial independence (for example, ability to cope with financial burdens).

Quality In Public Health: A Shared Responsibility

This framework aims to raise quality in public health services and functions. It is the first such framework for public health, and has been developed by the Public Health System Group with support from important partners across the public health system including from local government and the NHS.

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This document sets out a high-level, shared, system-wide commitment to high-quality public health functions and services.

The document:

  • Provides a framework for improving quality in the delivery of public health
    functions and services that can support sector led improvement
  • Describes what we mean by quality in public health systems, functions and
  • Sets out the roles and responsibilities of key players in the public health
    system to deliver high-quality functions and services
  • Describes the process for improving quality
  • Identifies areas for priority focus and action

The main audiences for the framework are:

  • people working in public health and related areas
  • providers of public health functions and services
  • commissioners and funders
  • local authority councillors and directly elected mayors
  • national government, organisations and policy makers

Practical help as GP Practices prepare for NHS App connection

After successful testing with more than 3,000 patients across 34 GP practices in England, the NHS App has started its public rollout. To help digital leaders, CCGs, GPs and practice staff to effectively prepare GP practices for connection to the app, an interactive webinar series will run until September.

Covering topics such as connection preparation, NHS Login and how to promote the app to patients so they take control of managing their health, the next webinar is on 3 April.

Smartphone ECG recorder is ‘fives times better at spotting heart problems’

A smartphone-based ECG recorder is five times more effective at diagnosing heart problems than standard tests, new research has suggested | via Digital Health


Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian conducted the first trial of the AliveCor KardiaMobile device in 243 people presenting with heart palpitations across 15 emergency departments across the UK. Clinicians using the device were able to diagnose the cause of palpitations in more than 40 per cent more patients than standard tests alone.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS), which joint funded the research, are now calling for greater use of the devices in emergency departments.

Full story at Digital Health

Infection control precautions

Standard infection control precautions: national hand hygiene and personal protective equipment policy | NHS Improvement


This national policy is a practice guide for NHS healthcare staff of all disciplines in all care settings. It covers responsibilities for organisations, staff and infection prevention and control teams. It also sets out how and when to decontaminate hands.

The national policy aims to:

  • support a common understanding (making the right thing easy to do for every patient, every time)
  • reduce variation in practice and standardise care processes
  • improve how knowledge and skills are applied in infection prevention and control
  • help reduce the risk of healthcare-associated infection
  • help to align practice, education, monitoring, quality improvement and scrutiny

Full document: Standard infection control precautions: national hand hygiene and personal protective equipment policy