Agenda item

Primary Care Networks (PCNs), Emotional Wellbeing Services and Mental Health Funding


35.1     The Committee considered a report on Primary Care Networks (PCNs), which are groups of GP practices in East Sussex, and emotional wellbeing services provided through PCNs. There are twelve PCNs in East Sussex which include all GP practices, with the largest covering around 100,000 registered patients and the smallest covering around 28,000 patients.

35.2     The Committee asked what services were being provided under the enhanced hours service, and how aware the wider public are of PCNs and the recruitment of specialist staff.

35.3     Liz Davis, Director of Primary Care Operations NHS Sussex outlined that each PCN makes its own decision regarding which services to provide under the enhanced hours arrangements. PCNs are expected to offer enhanced hours services across the whole population covered by the PCN. NHS Sussex does not control which clinics are provided but has some information on enhanced hours services that are being offered. In terms of informing the wider public of the services being offered by the PCN, every PCN is expected to engage with patients, families, local councillors and other stakeholders on the services that they offer. Liz Davis offered to speak to Cllr Shuttleworth outside the meeting regarding the Alps PCN.

35.4     Cllr Turner asked about the work to tackle health inequalities and the provision of a GP surgery in Baird ward in Hastings, which has been under consideration for some time.

35.5     Liz Davis agreed to look into this and get in touch with Cllr Turner after the meeting. Jessica Britton added that there had been a significant amount of effort tackle health inequalities and there is wider work in Hastings to tackle health inequalities. She indicated that she could speak to Cllr Turner about this work outside the meeting.

35.6     Claire Newman, Service Director for Primary Care and Wellbeing at SPFT commented that health inequalities can be analogous with serious mental health conditions. There are priorities to provide physical health checks for patients with serious mental health issues who are likely to die up to 18 years earlier than average. Access to mental health facilitators is now almost fully deployed in all PCNs for mental health issues and to provide health checks for people with serious mental health issues.

35.7     The Committee asked about the governance arrangements for PCNs, and how as a HOSC the Committee could monitor their performance and be satisfied they are making the best use of resources.

35.8     Liz Davis responded that the governance arrangements are quite ambiguous. The Integrated Care Board (ICB), which is NHS Sussex, will be conducting a financial and activity audit at the end of the 2023/24 financial year. The audit will focus on what the money has been spent on and its impact, together with questions about the PCN’s service plans. All PCNs are expected to undertake patient engagement and the requirement for this has been reiterated to PCNs. The results from the audit will be collated and information can be sent to interested parties.

35.9     The Committee commented that it would be good to have feedback on PCN performance through a follow-up report.

35.10   The Committee noted that were an additional 156 full time equivalent staff being employed in additional roles, and asked how many medical vacancies there were across all the PCNs.

35.11   Liz Davis agreed to provide information on medical vacancies via email after the meeting.

35.12   The Committee noted the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector organisations engagement with the work on health inequalities. However, PCNs do not always work with VCSE organisations on work commissioned by the NHS. The Committee asked how NHS Sussex could accelerate joint working between PCNs and the VCSE organisations.

35.13   Liz Davis responded that she was happy to have conversations with VCSE organisations about how to work more closely together on this at neighbourhood and PCN level. Claire Newman added that there are some good examples of co-design and delivery of mental health provision. SPFT has been working with colleagues from the VCSE Alliance on the emotional wellbeing and mental health offer to develop services relevant to PCN needs and to provide a coherent pathway.

35.14   The Committee asked if PCNs and GP practices are signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant.

35.15   Liz Davis and Jessica Britton agreed to come back to HOSC after the meeting with information on whether PCNs and GP practices are signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant and the range of work that is being undertaken on this. Claire Newman responded that SPFT are fully signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant. There is a veteran mental health offer for Sussex, Surrey and Kent which has been in place over the last five years. There will be a new enhanced service from 1st April with Berkshire.

35.16   The Committee asked if it would be possible to provide an update report on PCN performance and the services, particularly the enhanced hours services, they provide in six months time.

35.17   Liz Davis indicated that it would be possible to have a report ready in six months time.

35.18   The Committee agreed to add an update report on PCNs to the HOSC agenda for the 21 September 2023 meeting.

35.19   The Committee REOLVED to note the report and request an update report for the 21 September 2023 HOSC meeting.


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