Confed Viewpoint blogs

With primary care at a crossroads, now is the time to shape the future

Ruth Rankine on how primary care and the wider health and care system can design and deliver a brighter future.
Ruth Rankine

27 April 2023

The future of primary care continues to be an issue of contention. Integrated care systems (ICSs) have opened the doors to a new way of working as competition makes way for collaboration and the biggest opportunity for a generation  to shift to community-based care. 

But pressures on local services, staff and resource are at an all-time high, stifling organisations’ ability to improve services, innovate and transform. This combination of environmental factors has meant questions continue to surface about the future role of primary care within ICSs and the sustainability of the current model.  

Too often, primary care can feel ‘done to’ by system reforms. But we want to help change that. That’s why we are creating a space for solutions-focused conversations about the future of primary care, to influence future policy, support and share learning and connect with other forward-thinking leaders.

More to be done

The Fuller Stocktake set a direction of travel for how primary care can play a leading role in integrated care systems and a future model for delivering care. We support the Fuller vision, but we also know there is more to be done to help implement it and consider the impact on the model for primary care and, in particular, how it should be commissioned and contracted going forward.

The future needs to be designed and delivered by primary care with the wider system

We agree with Professor Fuller that the future needs to be designed and delivered by primary care with the wider system, and that many of the solutions already exist across different systems, driven by inspiring health and care leaders. As the NHS Confederation’s network for primary care, we bring the sector together with the rest of the health and care system to help shape the future of the health and care system, being bold in our ambitions and empowering leaders to maximise their role in the change process. 

Our new design groups meet regularly throughout the year and design practical resources, showcase innovation and work with national and system leaders to influence change and share ideas. The groups are based around five core topics:

  • access
  • integrated neighbourhood teams
  • workforce and estates
  • commissioning and contracting
  • data and digital.

Be part of the conversation

They are intended to be practical, problem-solving networking spaces, enabling current and emerging primary care leaders to connect and share ideas with like-minded peers across the country. Each design group also has its own community of practice, a space where individuals can share views, experiences and ideas.

Primary care stands at a crossroads. If you are keen to shape the future, join our groups and be part of the conversation.

Ruth Rankine is director of primary care at the NHS Confederation. Follow her on Twitter @Rankine.