Primary Care Clusters

Published on: 1st February 2022 | Updated on: 20th December 2023

Primary Care Clusters, collaboratives and ACD

What is a Primary Care Cluster?

The concept of primary care clusters where primary care services are coordinated on a geographical locality basis in Wales was first introduced in 2010. The policy was developed with the Welsh Government’s Primary & Community Services Strategic Delivery Programme, Setting the Direction where services were co-ordinated on a locality footprint serving populations of 30,000 to 50,000. Primary care clusters (sometimes referred to as NCNs, LCCs and other names across different health boards) bring together the collaborative leads from each contractor profession (Pharmacy, GMS, Optometry and Dentistry) and from other sectors such as Allied Health Professionals and Third Sector operators within a cluster area. The geographical area that a cluster covers is determined by individual local health boards – there are currently 60 Primary Care Clusters in Wales. Clusters are allocated budgets which they can use to improve service provision to local populations through a variety of means. Clusters also have a key role in supporting local health needs assessments, allocating appropriate resources and forecasting the potential future demand on primary care. Primary care clusters are expected to develop three-year plans which in turn will shape and underpin the health board level integrated medium term plans (IMTP).  Further information on clusters including their IMTPs can be found on the Primary Care One Website. A list of the GP practices included in each primary care cluster can also be viewed on this website. Your community pharmacy collaborative lead will also be able to share your clusters IMTP with you. Further information on Primary Care Clusters is available on the Primary Care One website

Cluster Working in Wales: Handbooks


Primary Care Collaboratives

Pharmacy collaboratives are a platform for all pharmacies within a specific primary care cluster to meet to discuss and plan how community pharmacy can contribute to the health and wellbeing of their local population. Similar collaboratives exist (or are being formed) for GMS, Optometry, Dental and Allied Health Professionals in each cluster across Wales. Pharmacy Collaboratives will have a nominated Community Pharmacy Collaborative Lead (CPCL) who represents the collaborative at Primary Care Cluster level. Pharmacy Collaboratives were introduced across Wales as part of “A New Prescription” in 2021, although some similar structures existed in some clusters in Wales for a number of years previously.


Accelerated Cluster Development

The accelerated cluster development programme proposed some changes to cluster structure from 22/23 into 23/24. The changes broadly bring other professions into line with the pharmacy collaborative model and will streamline representation at primary care clusters.

The collaboratives will each have an appointed lead, who will represent the views of the members of that collaborative at cluster level

Clusters further feed into Pan Cluster Planning Groups (PCPGs), who work on a  county level and include wider aspects of local authority and public health planning. The nominated cluster leads  represent their cluster at PCPG level.

The ACD programme will also help provide more support to individual collaboratives in the way of administrative and project management support which will allow the Community Pharmacy Collaborative Leads and the collaboratives to have more time discussing, planning and actioning what is needed to contribute to the health and wellbeing of their local population.