How to protect a PCN
If you run a Primary Care Network, it’s your responsibility to protect it. That means managing risks by making sure you have the right cover across all your practices. This isn’t always an easy task, especially when each practice is different.
In this guide, we’ll look at the common risks PCNs face and how you can minimise them.
What risks do I need to consider when running a PCN?
As a key decision maker, you’ll have a lot of areas of responsibility, each bringing their own set of risks.
Some of the risks that PCNs face are:
- Losing key staff when they’re off work with long term illnesses, making it difficult for your PCN to fulfil patient requests.
- Falling victim to a cyber-attack or data breach, potentially exposing confidential patient data.
- Legal claims from patients who become injured or ill under your care, potentially resulting in financial and reputational damage.
- Property damage or loss of contents at one or more of your practices, impacting the day-to-day running of the PCN.
- Employment and labour issues across the practices within the PCN which you, as the PCN manager, could be responsible and liable for.
If it’s your responsibility to protect your practices against these risks, getting financial advice can help you understand which areas can be insured, and how.
Protecting against your risks
Though there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to protecting Primary Care Networks, there are some common risks that you can protect against with the right insurance policy.
Replacing key staff
On the employee side, you run the risk of not being able to fulfil patient requests if your key staff are off for a long time due to illness. As replacing key staff can be costly and time-consuming, you might benefit from locum insurance.
This type of insurance is designed to cover the cost of any key staff, including replacement doctors, specialist nurses and pharmacists. It can make a real difference to your budgeting, providing peace of mind when you need it the most.
It’s important to work with a provider that will help you get the right cover for your practices. If you employ specialist staff, you can see the processes for replacing Clinical Directors, PCN managers and ARRS funded staff.
Cover for cyber attacks
If one of your practices falls victim to a data breach, your PCN could suffer both financial and reputational damage. These consequences could be dire, especially as you’re responsible for holding sensitive patient data and other personal records.
While you can’t always stop these things happening, you can cover against the risk with cyber insurance. This insurance offers digital protection to restore affected systems and gives you access to help if a breach occurs.
Protecting yourself at work
One risk you must consider is your position as a PCN manager, and the personal liabilities you face in your position.
When you’re dealing with employees, shareholders, patients and regulators, there’s a lot of weight on your shoulders. It also means you’re at a greater risk of being sued if something goes wrong.
It’s important to protect yourself while you work, which is where management liability insurance comes in handy. You should look for a policy that covers a range of claims, from health and safety to employment practices.
Protecting GP practices
If you’re looking to minimise the risks that your practices face, one thing to consider is GP surgery insurance. This is designed to protect the practice, rather than the PCN.
Not only does this cover building and contents damage, but specific practice needs. For example, lost or damaged refrigerated drugs and vaccines.
How do I minimise risks as a PCN lead?
The first step to minimising risks is to identify them. This isn’t the easiest when you have multiple practices and many employees across your network.
While there are some common risks that PCNs face, each PCNs risk profile is dependent on circumstances, including how you operate and how many practices you hold.
That’s why it’s important to get advice from a Specialist Financial Adviser. They’ll be able to advise you based on your PCN and suggest solutions to help you manage your financial, operational and technological risks.
What happens if I need to replace a Clinical Director who has fallen ill?
This depends on a few things, including:
- How the Clinical Director is paid
- Who is responsible for replacing the Clinical Director, whether it’s the PCN or the practice
- If there are any additional costs to consider and whether there’s any funding to cover these.
Once you’ve got the answers to these questions, it’s best to seek advice from a Specialist Financial Adviser. Your next steps will depend on the structure of your PCN and the employment contract of the Clinical Director.
How can we afford to replace a PCN manager?
It’s the responsibility of the PCN to replace a PCN manager or other key staff directly employed by the PCN. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll get any extra funding to cover these costs. This means you’ll either need to pass these costs on to the practices in the network, meaning they’ll have to cover the costs out of their own funding or budget, or, you’ll have to claim them on insurance.
The latter requires you to have a policy like locum insurance.
Do I need to protect against the cost of replacing ARRS funded staff?
ARRS or Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme is an NHS scheme that provides funding to PCNs to hire additional staff when needed.
ARRS can cover the cost of staff replacements. However, this will depend on how much of your ARRS funding you’re currently using or plan to use.
If there are additional costs to pay, these will usually be passed on to the practices within your PCN or they’ll be covered by insurance. For example, locum cover can be a way to cover the cost of replacing ARRS funded staff.
If you need help with your budgeting for staff replacements, or you’re looking to get locum cover, you can speak to a Specialist Financial Adviser.
How could our legal structure impact us?
A Primary Care Network isn’t a legal entity, meaning you can’t use it to employ people or to enter into third-party contracts. Instead, you’ll need to employ doctors and other key staff through one of your GP practices, typically the lead one in your network.
Members of a PCN may want to come together to form a legal entity, giving them the opportunity to provide additional healthcare services to the standard primary medical services. If you are thinking about this, you should first seek specialist legal advice.
Wesleyan Financial Services is a broker, therefore insurance products are provided by a number of insurers.
Limits, exclusions and charges do apply. Full terms and conditions of the policy and cover, including the policy benefits and exclusions, will be contained in the Policy Wording and Policy Summary. Risk must be acceptable to underwriters at normal term.