Are you attending our PCN Conference on 8 February 2020?
We’re bringing clinical directors and practice managers together to learn from leading experts and their peers and discuss the various and innovative ways primary care networks are developing across the country.
To give you a sneak peek at conference highlights, we talked with one of the key speakers, Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, about his work with the BMA and the General Practitioners Committee in providing more support to our developing primary care networks.
Name: Dr Krishna Kasaraneni
Role: GP and GPC Contract Negotiator for the BMA
Member of General Practitioners Committee since 2011
Could you please tell us about your background and your work as a GP and a GPC Contract Negotiator for the BMA?
I’m a GP based in Sheffield at a practice with 13,000 patients, and my background is mainly in workforce, equality and diversity issues in the medical profession. I became a member of the GPC in 2011 and joined the negotiation team in 2017.
My role in the GPC allows me to be part of the annual contract negotiation process and support primary care networks by getting feedback from PCN clinical directors on what support they need to build their workforce. I’ve travelled all around England, from Cornwall to Manchester, to learn about the varied challenges facing PCNs in both urban and rural areas of the country.
You’ve been working closely with the BMA to develop primary care network support services. Could you give a few examples of the work you’ve done to support PCNs?
My role as a member of the GPC is to negotiate the contract in a way that ensures we’re providing support that PCNs say they need to actively recruit new employees, inspire collaboration and manage their workload – thereby encouraging the workforce expansion that our practices have long needed.
I’ve been meeting with PCNs to discuss what support they need. Sometimes it’s to build their workforce and manage new recruits, and other times it’s to help manage or maintain difficult relationships. I take that feedback directly to the national negotiations.
I want to make sure the new contract gives PCN leaders what they need to develop their PCN, and that they are not forced into anything that will make their job more difficult. What clinical directors are repeatedly telling me at the moment is that they need more time and space.
What are some of the challenges you’ve seen PCNs overcome, specifically with the support of the BMA?
The biggest challenge is that practices just simply don’t have the time or space to work together as PCNs in many areas. Geographic, cultural and relationship challenges add to this and make recruiting and managing workloads even more difficult. The more recent challenge was the draft service specification from NHS England which was completely unrealistic. Due to PCN feedback, the BMA rejected those proposals and we’re currently working on a package that is supportive of general practice.
Thanks to how we at the BMA have structured our PCN support services, many clinical directors and other PCN leaders have come forward to discuss the challenges they’re facing and ask for support, specifically around workforce planning and management. For example, our PCN commuity app provides a forum for clinical directors and others to share the problems they’re facing and find common solutions. We now have nearly 500 actively engaging in these discussions, and when someone raises a question about workforce planning or how to get other teams involved, they can find helpful advice from their peers. We also send them information about our Learning and development service which provides valuable skills in these areas.
Taking that a step further and applying it locally, we’re working to get the conversation started – or even restarted – in many PCNs, to really dig into the source of these challenges and how the BMA and GPC contract negotiations can resolve them. And, we’re not only informing our negotiations – we’re taking your feedback and incorporating it into improving our PCN services to make sure we’re dealing with the topics important to PCNs.
What achievements have you seen in the local medical community around PCN development? Could you give a few examples?
I’ve seen many, varied achievements within the last year!
A great example is having watched remote, rural medical communities come together to help their PCNs recruit staff that they’ve struggled to recruit in the past. PCNs in general are learning to work together and more effectively across their teams and practices. Many have been doing this for years with minimal funding, but where PCNs are afforded freedom and flexibility, they are beginning to turn things around – some of them will be at the conference to showcase these success stories!
What progress or achievements would you like to see in PCNs in the year ahead?
I would like to see PCNs given the resources they need to build their workforce themselves and develop their PCN in a way that works for them. I hope to see that their recruitment and management challenges have been addressed and that they’re getting the support they need from the BMA and GPC.
As a speaker at BMA’s PCN conference next month, what advice would you like to give attendees?
I’d like to encourage delegates to use this conference as an opportunity to hear what’s happening around the country and have their say on the future of their PCN. This is a great chance to network with their peers and national leaders, and feed into the current processes by sharing the challenges they’re facing.
It’s also an opportunity to gain an understanding of how other PCNs are progressing in their workforce recruitment and development and take the best ideas back to your own PCN to further your development.
Register for the 2020 PCN Conference
Want to learn more about recent proposals or the potential opportunities and challenges for your PCN? Reserve your spot at our conference in February.