Inquiry into primary care



Primary health care provides the first point of contact in the healthcare system. In the NHS, the main source of primary health care is general practice. 


The Health, Social Care and Sport Committee's inquiry focused on the role of clusters (groups of GPs working with other health and care professionals to plan and provide services locally) as a means of transforming primary care. There are 64 cluster networks across Wales, serving populations of between 30 and 50 thousand patients. Clusters are determined by individual local health boards in each area.


Terms of reference:

The Committee’s inquiry aimed to provide a better understanding of how the cluster model is working in Wales and considered:

  • How GP cluster networks in Wales can assist in reducing demand on GPs and the extent to which clusters can provide a more accessible route to care (including mental health support in primary care).
  • The emerging multi-disciplinary team (how health and care professionals fit into the new cluster model and how their contribution can be measured).
  • The current and future workforce challenges.
  • The funding allocated directly to clusters to enable GP practices to try out new ways of working; how monies are being used to reduce the pressure on GP practices, improve services and access available to patients.
  • Workload challenges and the shift to primary prevention in general practice to improve population health outcomes and target health inequalities. 
  • The maturity of clusters and the progress of cluster working in different Local Health Boards, identifying examples of best practice. 
  • Local and national leadership supporting the development of the cluster infrastructure; how the actions being taken complement those in the Welsh Government's primary care plan and 2010 vision, Setting the Direction.
  • Greater detail on the aspects being evaluated, the support being supplied centrally and the criteria in place to determine the success or otherwise of clusters, including how input from local communities is being incorporated into the development and testing being undertaken.


Evidence gathering

The Committee invited views on this issue. The consultation closed on 3 February 2017.

Written response from the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport.




Report on the inquiry into Primary Care: Clusters (PDF 735KB)


Welsh Government Response – January 2018 (PDF 277KB)


Plenary debate


The Plenary debate on the Committee’s report took place on 17 January 2018.

Business type: Committee Inquiry

Reason considered: Senedd Business;

Status: Complete

First published: 30/11/2016