Since the West of England AHSN was established back in 2013, our work with colleagues in primary and community care settings has proven an invaluable launch pad for new collaborations, creating connections through new and existing networks, supporting a safety culture to reduce variation in practice, and delivering workforce transformation.

Key stats

5 community education provider networks have been established in the West of England

14 primary care practices have joined our Primary Care Collaborative

333 primary care staff have completed the SCORE culture survey about their practices

3,162 staff have received Human Factors training

Community Education Provider Networks (CEPNs)

In April 2016 we launched a programme with Health Education England (HEE) to develop Community Education Provider Networks (CEPNs) across the region.

CEPNs are an exciting new development bringing together primary care organisations in partnership to improve education and training capability and capacity in primary and community care settings. They support general practice by contributing to workforce planning and development, responding to local need and acting as a local coordinator of education and training for primary and community care.

In the South West, the establishment of CEPNs is being driven by both West of England and South West AHSNs, and in the longer term these networks will become self-supporting and directing.

In the West of England we have five CEPNs: Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire (BNSSG); Swindon; Wiltshire; Gloucestershire; and Bath & North East Somerset.

The five networks have developed project plans, and priorities include: mapping existing workforce physician associates maximising training opportunities for primary care staff GPs with a special interest networks for practice nurses, practice managers and healthcare assistants (HCAs) mental health workers in primary care developing the nursing workforce, including HCAs.

A reference group has been set up to promote and share learning across the five CEPNS, which also includes representatives from the University of the West of England and the University of Bath, and primary and community care providers. This work is closely aligned and supporting the Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) through representation on the Local Workforce Action Boards.

Primary Care Collaborative

Within primary care practices, just as in any organisation, a strong safety culture is associated with greater satisfaction and engagement from staff: the safer the culture, the better the care.

In partnership with all seven of the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the West of England, we have been running our Primary Care Collaborative since April 2016.

This collaborative is now supporting 14 practices in: carrying out a culture survey and identifying actions through a facilitated debrief with staff; developing knowledge and skills in quality improvement, human factors and incident reporting through training and resources; a series of learning and sharing events.

The Collaborative has developed a number of resources freely available to all practices. These include a simple guide to the National Reporting and Learning System and a guide to Human Factors in Primary Care.

All practices have the opportunity to take part in collaborative events to learn and share from each other, as well as a cultural survey that measures their practice culture and provides actionable feedback to practices on areas to improve.

Alison Moon, Transformation & Quality Director for Bristol CCG, says: “It is really positive working with the AHSN on the primary care programme. There’s a combination of energised joint working, a structured improvement approach and the sharing of best practice and experiences, which gives us a really good chance of achieving our shared objectives on patient safety.”

Human Factors

Communication and team working have a significant impact on patient safety. Although the principles of Human Factors have been incorporated into acute care services over the last decade, existing training and resources are not directly transferrable to the community health and social care context.

Funded by Health Education England South West, we have worked in partnership with Sirona Care and Health and North Bristol NHS Trust to develop a Human Factors training programme specifically for community support staff. Based on how teams actually communicate day-to-day, the training uses communication tools and realistic scenarios staff might encounter.

41 facilitators across the region have been trained, creating a faculty with specialist knowledge and experience in Human Factors training for community services. Over the last 12 months, our member organisations have trained more than 3,000 staff.

“I thought I was a good communicator and facilitator but the training has made me far more reflective and self-aware. It is easy to become a little ‘blind’ to the bigger picture when you are under stress and busy but the value of the principles have been invaluable.” – Trainer

All resources are available at

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