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Community Provider Education Networks

Community provider education networks (CPENs) have been set up across the country to address workforce development needs in primary care. The CPENs will provide a focus for training and development of the primary care workforce.


The aim is to provide sustainable development and transformation of this workforce in order to meet the changing focus in delivery of health care as described in the Five Year Forward View. We have eight across the north east:

  • Hartlepool and Stockton;
  • Newcastle and Gateshead;
  • County Durham;
  • South Tess;
  • North Tyneside;
  • Sunderland and south Tyneside;
  • Northumberland; and
  • Darlington.

The CPENs are the catalyst for the conversation around risks and issues, sharing best practice as to how to manage the process and making engagement more fluid.

All eight north east CPENs have been set three areas of focus over the next two years.

Clinical placements

Firstly the education and workforce development system in the north east will seek to offer clinical placements or increase placements to several areas of the workforce; pre reg nursing, allied health professionals, pharmacists and physicians associates, in a primary care setting.

This will provide flexibility to the learner which will expand their knowledge and provide a wider skill set to each practice.

Workforce development needs

The second focus is to identify development needs to future proof the primary care workforce. Identifying and understanding these development needs will expand the primary care workforce ability to see more patients with complex needs. As an example; receptionists in GP practices are the first person a patient interacts with, so how do we ensure they understand signs of dementia and learn how interact with patients who suffer from dementia? 

Picture of the current workforce

The third priority is to get a better picture of what the workforce looks like now. For secondary care we have a robust process for collecting workforce data which is very effective for future planning. This is not the case in primary care and we need to improve this situation. A primary care collection tool has been developed to gather relevant data which will be used to recognise future issues and provide a better understanding of the current issues, risks and challenges.

We feel that the plans we have in place will enable and enhance sustainability by:                                                                              

1 - Ensuring we have a primary care tool embedded in all GP practices, which becomes self-sustaining by demonstrating its value and worth for the GP practices and CCGs.  This will therefore require minimum levels of maintenance or support on an on-going basis.                                                                                                                                                            

2 - During 2016 and 2017 we will enhance and widen mentorship training and clinical skills training so that it is embedded in the primary care workforce and associated education and training contracts to ensure that placements from the HEIs will have been of sufficient number and quality that they will become part of the on-going placement network. This in turn will ensure that students training on nursing and allied health professional programmes will experience and understand the primary care service delivery model.                                                                                                                                                         

3 - We will help to support the wider aspects of the hubs administration (sharing best practice etc.) via our respective planning and commissioning, primary care and quality teams.  In addition, the placement tariff for healthcare learners in primary care will help to sustain the education and training in primary care.  As placement capacity grows year on year there is every potential for this funding, alongside other resources supporting workforce education and training e.g. Apprenticeships, Physician Associates, to support the administration of more clinical placements, local coordination of education and training activity and engagement with the wider community health and care partners.                                                                                                                

4 - We will also, by 2018, have developed and delivered education and training, as part of our continuing workforce development activities (whether via the post registration contracts or the bands 1-4 investment) and ensured that it becomes mainstreamed within those delivery models.  This will therefore ensure on-going investment in the primary care workforce in a sustained manner. This on-going investment in the primary care workforce will become mainstreamed in our investment plans and will continue beyond the end of the training hub funding. It will ensure workforce development at all levels and across all staff groups leading to a more sustained and sustainable skill set for staff.                                                                                                                                             

5 – To ensure absolute sustainability and ensure that we reflect the integration of medical and non-medical we are working with the 10 CCGs across the north east to deliver a primary care workforce development, education and training strategy. The target date for that strategy is June 2016.  The training hubs forms an integral part of that work and the vice versa. This primary care workforce development, education and training strategy will ensure a suite of training opportunities for all staff working in primary care, which CCGs and primary care employers can choose from, which best suits their local needs, current and future challenges.  We should aim for consistently high quality and sustainable models of primary care, which does not rely on care delivered only by GPs, but with each and every member of the general practice team delivering care where it is appropriate and relevant. For example this can help to address some of the difficulties we have in attracting GPs to enter training and work in the north east, which is worse in some geographic parts of the region than others, but will not resolve all of these issues. To take this forward we need a workforce that has the appropriate and relevant skill set, but also a skill mix which is appropriate for service delivery, encompassing medical and non-medical staff.  This workforce will be supported and developed by appropriate and relevant education and training, focusing on both the clinical and non-clinical workforce. Important in this skill set is the ability of all members of the workforce to be able to work across protocols rather than be constrained by them; or at very least recognise early when such intervention is needed.  This strategy will seek to develop the current workforce, so that we have an appropriate mix of staff, in appropriate numbers with the right skill set, but mutual learning and support being an essential element of both future education and service.                                                                                                                                                                                                            

6 - As part of the on-going work with all CCGs and therefore GP practices, we will continue our work to identify their current and future workforce challenges, both educationally and from a service delivery perspective.  This will include understanding what they currently face as challenges, but also what they see as being the future service delivery model. This will include understanding what this means in regards to skill mix and skill set. The plans outlined (1-4) above will help to mainstream and embed education and training which will aid this. The work on the primary care workforce development, education and training strategy (point 5 above) will then help with a menu style approach to workforce development activities, thus allowing each CCG and GP practice to focus their developments in the areas that will have maximum effect, support by education and training that is relevant to them and which meets their future service delivery model.

If you have a question about this piece of work please email the strategy team.

Find out more about the national training hubs programme and other training hubs’ work through the national page.

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