How it works – primary care finance and primary care networks

Sarah Day

03 March 2020


Primary care is the first point of contact for many people when they have a health problem. The term primary care, while often most closely linked to doctors in general practice, also covers dentists, opticians and pharmacists. Other professionals such as nurses or physiotherapists may also be part of the primary healthcare team.

Most family doctors, dentists, opticians and pharmacists are independent contractors or businesses which deliver their services through contracts with the NHS. They are not usually NHS employees, although there are new delivery models developing in some parts of England.

This how it works guide gives an overview of primary care finance and the financial arrangements to support evolving primary care networks (PCNs). The briefing is intended to give a basic understanding for those working in NHS finance teams or those who may be new to the financial management of primary care.

The main part of this briefing focuses on general practice in England but also includes an overview of dental, ophthalmology and community pharmacy services. Sections are included for each of the devolved nations, highlighting differences and similarities between the approaches.
How it works – primary care finance and primary care networks

March 2020 (PDF 342KB)

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