Primary Care Networks


PCNInfographicSince the NHS was created in 1948, the population has grown and people are living longer. Many people are living with long term conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, or suffer with mental health issues and may need to access their local health services more often.

To meet these needs, practices have begun working together and with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local areas in primary care networks.

Primary care networks build on the core of current primary care services and enable greater provision of proactive, personalised, coordinated and more integrated health and social care. Clinicians describe this as a change from reactively providing appointments to proactively care for the people and communities they serve. Where emerging primary care networks are in place in parts of the country, there are clear benefits for patients and clinicians.


Derwentside PCN have recruited clinical pharmacists and social prescribing link workers, to work alongside general practices, creating additional resources for patients to access healthcare. The PCN are also working with community services and secondary care services. Click on the roles below to find out a bit more about they are doing for our patients in the network.

Clinical Pharmacists

Clinical pharmacists have made a unique and valuable contribution to the primary care skill mix. Pharmacists contribute significantly to patient safety, bring medicines and prescribing expertise, support with prescribing tasks, support for patients with long term conditions including support for healthy lifestyles.

Social Prescribing Link Workers

 What is Social Prescribing?
Social prescribing provides a 1:1 personalised support service with a Social Prescribing Link Worker (SPLW). 

They will help you with a wide range of social, emotional and  practical needs with a focus on ‘What Matters to You’ helping to improve your mental/physical wellbeing and general health.

What can your SPLW support you with?

  • Housing, Finance, Benefits
  • Long term conditions
  • General and Emotional Wellbeing
  • Social Isolation and Integration
  • Volunteering, Employment and Learning

How will your SPLW support you?

We can offer up to 8 sessions to support you to the right support by: 

Working with you on what matters to you by:

  • Signposting – information and encouragement to access services
  • Facilitation – Information and support to access services
  • Navigation – Support to engage and access a service

How do you access the SPWL service?

Speak to your reception staff at your GP practice for further Information.


The vast majority of musculoskeletal first contact practitioners are physiotherapists with enhanced skills. They can help patients with musculoskeletal issues such as back, neck and joint pain by:

  • assessing and diagnosing issues
  • giving expert advice on how best to manage their conditions
  • referring them onto specialist services if necessary.

Patients with back and joint pain, including conditions such as arthritis, will now be able to contact their local physiotherapist directly, rather than waiting to see a GP or being referred to hospital. Patients can also see a physiotherapist by speaking to the GP practice receptionist or by being referred by their GP.

By making it easier for patients to access physiotherapist, patients will have quicker access to diagnosis and treatment, helping them to manage their conditions more effectively and recover faster, so they can get back to normal life quickly.  They will help GPs to manage their workload more effectively, and reduce the need for onward referrals.