• A fraction of the primary care networks in England are made up entirely of super-partnerships
  • Most of the existing at-scale GP providers make up the minority of the PCNs their members have joined
  • Half of the largest 60 GP practices in England have formed single-handed PCNs

There are seven primary care networks entirely made up of multi-practice GP providers, with a further 38 composed of a single very large practice, according to data collected by HSJ.

Large-scale providers like Modality Partnership or Our Health Partnership, which operate across multiple practices covering tens or hundreds of patients, feature in 141 PCNs.

However, a very small fraction of the approximately 1,250 networks in England are entirely made up by the practices of a single large-scale provider.

In 20 more PCNs, the majority of member practices are part of a single large-scale GP provider — often a “super-partnership” — and another 21 PCNs have more than half their total patient list registered with a single large multi-practice provider. 

Meanwhile, 38 PCNs have only one member, which is a large practice, normally operating across multiple sites, but with a single primary care contract.

The majority of these single-practice PCNs have registered patient lists within NHS England’s preferred size of PCNs, of 30,000 to 50,000 population.

There are 27 that lie within these bounds – characterised as a “hard bottom and soft top” by NHS officials in the run up to the launch of PCNs in July last year.

Three are above the 50,000-patient upper limit – with the largest a little shy of 65,000. And there are eight under the 30,000 bound. The smallest is less than 25,000 patients.

The networks are collections of GP practices brought together last year to work collectively in networks providing services stipulated by a network contract from NHS England in addition to their general medical contracts.

It is not yet clear how pre-existing large-scale GP provider models will shape the development of the nascent PCNs — and whether more PCNs will develop into single large providers. HSJ’s analysis of PCN data shows how examples of two existing models of at-scale provision are distributed across the networks.

Large-scale GP providers

These providers — often known as super-partnerships — are various forms of entities made up of tens or hundreds of GPs, often working as GP partners but in a more corporate entity, caring for hundreds of thousands of patients but divided into individual constituent practices and practice lists.

HSJ has isolated the 12 largest of these at-scale providers, which have nine or more constituent practices not counting urgent care centres and other services that are not core members of a PCN.

These super-partnerships are involved in 141 PCNs – around 11 per cent of the total – according to data collected by HSJ using freedom of information laws from clinical commissioning groups.

The second-largest, Our Health Partnership, with 38 GP practices spread across Birmingham and the West Midlands, has practices in 16 PCNs. For eight, half or more of the patients are from OHP practices. And in nine of those networks, half or more of the practice that are part of those PCNs are from OHP. It makes up the entire network in two of those PCNs.

Modality Partnership, the largest at-scale provider, is in 18 PCNs and has the majority of either practices or patients in seven of them, according to data collected by HSJi. There are three PCNs which are entirely made up of Modality practices.

The other seven super-partnerships with nine or more member practices have a majority of practices in three PCNs and contribute the majority of patients in three of them.

One, Centene, also known as Operose or The Practice Group, part of the large US -based healthcare firm, has 12 practices spread across 11 PCNs and contributes neither the majority of practices or patients in any of them. Centene is one of three major corporate health firms that provide primary care services in England.

The other two, Virgin Care and Care UK, are involved in PCNs but, like Centene, their practices are distributed across PCNs, without any making up the majority of practices or patients.

 Total practices (minus urgent care centres etc)PCNs with at least one practicePCNs made up entirely of this providerPCNs that this provider contributes a majority of the collective listPCNs that this provider contributes a majority of the practices
Modality Partnership 39 18 3 7 7
Our Health Partnership 38 16 2 8 9
AT Medics 30 24 1 1 2
SSP Health 26 18 0 1 1
Malling Health 13 12 0 0 0
Centene 12 11 0 0 0
The Village Surgery 11 10 0 0 0
Hurley Clinic Partnership 10 8 0 2 0
GTD Primary Care 9 6 0 0 0
Hope Citadel Healthcare 9 6 0 1 0
Symphony Healthcare Services 9 5 1 1 1
Virgin Care 9 7 0 0 0

Single practice networks

HSJ has also analysed the distribution of large-scale single practices. There are 60 with patient lists of more than 30,000, the lower end of the recommended range of populations PCNs are expected to cover.

Exactly half of these 60 practices are sole members of a PCN. However, the size of these practices is not an indicator of whether they have formed a PCN single-handed.

Octagon Medical Practice, the largest single patient list in England with nearly 85,000 patients, formed from a merger of three practices in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG, is one of two practices in its PCN. However, it has 90 per cent of the near-95,000 patients in the PCN on its list.

The largest single-handed PCN is Midlands Medical Partnership, or MMP, which has nine branches in the Birmingham and Solihull CCG.

Of the 60 practices that come in above the expected minimum of 30,000 patients in a PCN, the smallest single-hander is Newgate Medical Group, in the Bassetlaw CCG, with a patient list just shy of 30,500.

However, there are eight single-handers below the minimum end of NHS England’s’ preferred size range for PCNs. They range in size from the Blandford PCN in Dorset of 24,818, made up of the White Cliff Group of two practices, to the Aspen Medical Practice’s Aspen PCN in Gloucestershire.

Primary care network *NB: PCN names are being revised and may have changedPatient list sizeConstituent practice nameHome CCG
MMP Central and North 64874 Midlands Medical Partnership or MMP (with branches: All Saints Medical Practice, Broadmeadow Clinicl, Dudley Park MC, Old Priory Surgery, Stratford house Surgery, Erdington MC, Jockey Road MC, Mere Green Surgery, Kingsmount MC, Eaton Wood MC) NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG
Bay Primary Care Network 53750 Bay Medical Group  NHS Morecambe Bay CCG
Sutton Group Practice 51618 Sutton Coldfield Group Practice NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG
Hereford City HMG 47591 Hereford Medical Group NHS Herefordshire CCG
Teldoc 46769 TELDOC NHS Telford and Wrekin CCG
Sheppey 46768 Sheppey Healthy Living Centre NHS Swale CCG
YMG 44088 York Medical Group NHS Vale of York CCG
Portsdown 43998 Portsdown Group Practice NHS Portsmouth CCG
Acorn Health Partnership 43361 Acorn Health Partnership (formerly: Gillies and Overbridge Medical Partnership, The Hackwood Partnership and Camrose Medical Partnership) NHS North Hampshire CCG
Granta 43217 Granta Medical Partnership NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG
Beacon Medical Group 43092 Beacon Medical Group NHS Devon CCG
Grafton Primary Care Network 41678 Grafton Medical Partners NHS Wandsworth CCG
University Network 41499 University Health Service Health Centre  NHS Sheffield CCG
Whitstable PCN 40296 Whitstable Medical Practice  NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCG
GPS Healthcare 40139 GPS Healthcare (including branches: Meadowside, Park Surgery, Blythe Practice, Village Surgery, Yew Tree Practice) NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG
Bridge View PCN 37463 Bridge View Medical NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG
Newcastle Central Health 37258 Saville NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG
Carlisle Healthcare 37069 Carlisle Healthcare (merged from: Brunswick House Group Practice, North Carlisle Medical Centre and St Paul’s Meidcal Centre) NHS North Cumbria CCG
Colchester Medical Practice 36331 Colchester Medical Practice NHS North East Essex CCG
Gosport Central 35891 The Willow Group NHS Fareham and Gosport CCG
Holderness 35722 Holderness Health (merged from: South Holderness Medical Practice, Hedon Group Practice and Church View Surgery) NHS East Riding of Yorkshire CCG
Middlewood Partnership 33576 Bollington Medical Centre NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG
Surrey Downs PCN – Integrated Care Partnership 33088 Integrated Care Partnership NHS Surrey Downs CCG
Tyntesfield Medical Group 32696 Tyntesfield Medical Group NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG
University 31313 University NHS Berkshire West CCG
Mayflower 31158 Mayflower Mannamead Surgery NHS Devon CCG
Claypath & University 31157 Claypath & University Medical Group NHS North Durham CCG
St Austell Healthcare 31043 St Austell Healthcare NHS Kernow CCG
Sittingbourne East 30736 Memorial Medical Centre NHS Swale CCG
Newgate Medical 30442 Newgate Medical NHS Bassetlaw CCG
Aspen 29465 Aspen Medical Practice NHS Gloucestershire CCG
Westongrove Partnership 29454 Westongrove Partnership NHS Buckinghamshire CCG
Frome 29238 Frome NHS Somerset CCG
Yateley 28020 Oakley Health Group NHS North East Hampshire and Farnham CCG
Sittingbourne West 28007 Grovehurst Surgery NHS Swale CCG
Living Well PCN 27713 LIVING WELL PARTNERSHIP  NHS Southampton CCG
Heart of Bath 26961 Heart of Bath (made up of multiple merged practices, including Oldfield, St James’s - which itself was formed from a merger with Catherine Cottage. NHS Bath and North East Somerset CCG
Blandford Primary Care Network 24818 White Cliff Group Practice (Dr Evans and Partners) (which merged with Eagle House) NHS Dorset CCG