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Health needs assessment footprints

This sub-page is part of the Cluster Planning Support Portal (CPSP)

Healthcare assessment and planning footprints in Wales

Multiple directives require pairing of population health needs assessments (HNAs) and planning outputs across various geographic and/ or structural footprints in Wales; see the table below. This presents a number of challenges in need of system-level solutions, including the need to:

  • Rationalise planning footprints so all stakeholders are able to scrutinise the same data to support integrated planning; this requires a more efficient approach to avoid duplication of effort, while still ensuring that the data can be cut across multiple footprints of interest;
  • Rationalise needs assessment frequency so that it guides medium to long-term strategy; for example, annual requirements may not acknowledge the relative stability of many health indicators, detract from efforts to respond to known needs, and allow insufficient time to measure the impact of action plans;
  • View needs assessment as a joint responsibility; this isn’t something best delegated wholesale to public health (for example), but should reflect contributions from those best placed to make them by incorporating a variety of data types and perspectives;
  • Ensure data analyses are not presented without also sharing evidence on making improvements that address needs and reduce inequity; intelligence can only become actionable if priority setting and planning is underpinned by effective and cost-effective intervention options.

There is no central repository for area-based needs assessments undertaken in Wales. Existing assessments may be recovered from one of more of the following types of website:

Topic-based needs assessments

In addition to area-based assessments, topic-based needs assessments may be undertaken or commissioned on a local or national footprint (e.g. the needs of people living with disabilities, prison health, the needs of refuges and asylum seekers, or eye health).

There is no central repository for topic-based needs assessments undertaken in Wales. Where a cluster/ PCPG has a particular topic interest, asking local public health teams (who may have been involved) about any such existing assessments on health board footprints would be a reasonable starting point, as would searching the national Public Health Wales website.

Summary of key healthcare assessment and planning footprints in Wales

Footprint (ordered by size)


Assessment output

Planning output


Health board/ region

Regional Partnership Board (SSWB Act 2014)

Population Assessment

Joint Area Plan

The first PAs were published April 2017; refreshed every 3 years, with JAP 1 year later

NHS Planning Framework

IMTPs will need to demonstrate how they have been informed and underpinned by population needs assessments and 3-year plans at cluster level

Integrated Medium-term Plan (IMTP), incorporating plan for primary care services

During the Covid-19 pandemic there has been a move to annual plans

Health board (Public Health Act 2017)

Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment

Market entry decision


Local authority

Public Service Board (WBFG Act 2015)

Well-being Assessment

Well-being Plan

Assessment “within the 12 months preceding each ordinary local government election”; plan is annual


Pan-cluster planning group




TBC for 23-24 plans


GMS contract (formerly, part of the QOF cluster domain)

Local needs assessment

Cluster Action Plan

Not required for 22-23 plans; TBC for 23-24 plans

GP practice

The GMS contractual requirement (part of the QOF cluster domain) to produce a practice population needs assessment and practice development plan has been retired