Clinical Commissioning

Primary Care Networks

Primary care networks (PCNs) form a key building block of the NHS long-term plan. Bringing general practices together to work at scale has been a policy priority for the government for some time. There are a range of reasons, including improving the ability of practices to recruit and retain staff; to manage financial and estates pressures; to provide a wider range of services to patients and to more easily integrate with the wider health and care system. 

GP practices have been asked to find different ways of working together. The NHS long-term plan and the new five-year framework for the GP contract, published in January 2019, put a more formal structure around this way of working, but without creating new statutory bodies.

Since 1 July 2019, all except a handful of GP practices in England have come together in around 1,300 geographical networks covering populations of approximately 30–50,000 patients. Around 50 networks (including ours) usually in very rural areas, will cover a population of less than 30,000, but most are bigger than 50,000.

Rural West Primary Care Network (RWPCN)

Charlbury Surgery has joined with Burford, Bampton and Broadshires Surgeries to form the Rural West Primary Care Network. Dr Brookes-White and a lead doctor from each of the other surgeries meet on an approximately monthly basis to discuss issues pertinent to the network & to help develop and procure services for our patients at a local level. The Carterton COVID-19 Hot Hub (thankfully now closed due to current lack of need) is an example. This vision of a separate treatment hub for our Covid-19 Patients was turned into reality within just two weeks with little outside help showing the strength of teamwork of a small group of doctors.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG)

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) were created following the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, and replaced Primary Care Trusts on 1 April 2013. They are clinically-led statutory NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services for their local area. As of 1 April 2020, following a series of mergers, there are 135 CCGs in England.

Commissioning is about getting the best possible health outcomes for the local population. This involves assessing local needs, deciding priorities and strategies, and then buying services on behalf of the population from providers such as hospitals, clinics, community health bodies, etc. It is an ongoing process. CCGs must constantly respond and adapt to changing local circumstances. They are responsible for the health of their entire population, and measured by how much they improve outcomes.

CCGs are:

  • Membership bodies, with local GP practices as the members;
  • Led by an elected governing body made up of GPs, other clinicians including a nurse and a secondary care consultant, and lay members;
  • Responsible for approximately 2/3 of the total NHS England budget; or £79.9 billion in 2019/20;
  • Responsible for commissioning healthcare including mental health services, urgent and emergency care, elective hospital services, and community care;
  • Independent, and accountable to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care through NHS England;
  • Responsible for the health of populations ranging from under 100,000 to over a million, although their average population is about a quarter of a million people. 

West Oxfordshire Locality Group (WOLG)

Charlbury Medical Centre is one of eight local practices which joined together in a consortium of West Oxfordshire practices working together to develop and maintain local services for our patients.   

WOLG is part of an Oxfordshire-wide consortium now known as the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.


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