Community Education Provider Networks or CEPNs, as referred to more commonly, started in their infancy in 2014. There are now 12 CEPNs in south London each with the overarching ambition of supporting primary care workforce development and transformation. Most do this with a focus on delivering and co-ordinating CPPD as well as some more innovative workforce transformation projects.
In its early days the concept of the CEPN model was not easy to understand. Unlike traditional buildings and structures, the CEPN is a virtual organisation, unbounded by walls, desks, nor employees. It set out to radically transform the way primary care education and training is delivered in order to support workforce transformation. As independent not-for-profit companies, CEPNs have created a vehicle through which primary care workforce transformation can occur.
So what is workforce transformation really? It is not about one-off training courses, but rather creating opportunities to help organisations use staff differently and innovatively to help increase capacity and capability within primary care. How else are we to address the massive primary care workforce crisis? One way CEPNs are doing this is through pilots. The Richmond CEPN has piloted a number of placement projects which has set the stage to help reshape the traditional GP workforce model. Some
of these include; pre-registration pharmacy students, student nurses, paramedic students, speciality rheumatology trainees, student social workers in care homes and more recently the primary care navigator and medical assistant roles.
So what next for CEPNs? The future is unclear and financial sustainability remains an issue. But what is clear is that CEPNs are making a difference. Better access to training is only one aspect. CEPNs have helped develop the thinking around primary care workforce transformation and created opportunities to test new ways of working. With the first independent evaluation report on CEPNs due to be published soon, it's a good time to reflect on how CEPNs have emerged as part of the solution. It's an exciting time.