Commissioning: further issues - Health Committee Contents

Supplementary written evidence from the Department of Health (CFI 01D)

1.  This note provides some additional information in response to questions received from the Health Committee—the questions are given below in bold.


It's not clear what exactly the pin-point locations on this map relate to as regards Pathfinders. Can the Department explain, please?

2.  On our interactive map of consortia pathfinders[27] the markers are centred on the relevant population centre for a pathfinder, colour-coded by region. Clicking on a marker brings up more information about a pathfinder. This is the only map the Department has produced showing the location of pathfinders.

Can we also have an explanation, please, of whether or not Pathfinder consortia have defined geographical areas? Fully-fledged consortia will clearly have to have a defined geographical focus (as they'll be responsible for locality-based services, services for unregistered patients and liaison with Local Authorities), but it's not clear to us whether Pathfinders are required to be constituted on this basis

3.  Each pathfinder will have a notional geographical area, corresponding to the practice boundaries of their constituent GP practices, although a detailed delineation of the boundary was not a prerequisite of the local process to identify pathfinders (the key criteria were:

  • evidence of local GP leadership and support;
  • evidence of Local Authority engagement, or
  • an ability to contribute to the delivery of the local QIPP agenda in their locality).

If Pathfinders do have defined geographical areas, we would like to have a map showing these. If Pathfinders don't have defined geographical areas, the constituent practices will have practice boundaries and it would be useful to see those on a map; or to have a map showing the approximate areas covered by the consortia (as per the attached map of South East Coast / South Central Wave 1 Pathfinders, which is available online at

4.  As the identification of pathfinders has been driven locally by SHAs, we have not yet mapped boundaries centrally in DH. Some SHAs have produced local maps, but not all delineate boundaries; at this stage, it would be a costly, and labour-intensive process to draw up a map, as individual PCTs would need to clarify the practice boundaries of participating GP practices.


As regards clusters, we appreciate that the DH deadline for their formation is 1 June, but a lot of clusters are falling into place already and the DH presumably has data on these that can be given to the Committee in map form. The HSJ has already produced such a map unofficially (attached)

5.  SHAs are putting together proposals for how they will ensure PCTs are able to effectively carry out their functions until they are abolished, subject to parliamentary approval, in April 2013. Proposals for how PCTs will be clustered together will be signed off by the Department of Health. Only once the Department has signed off geographies for clusters in every SHA a map will be produced.


On another point, we note from Sir David Nicholson's letter to the NHS of 17 February and from the Department's memorandum of evidence for the follow-up inquiry into commissioning that the Department plans to issue in March guidance on the applicability of Any Willing Provider to Community Services and will also soon be publishing its response to the "Greater choice and control" consultation. Is the Department able to confirm the dates on which these will be published, please?

6.  The responses to the Greater Choice and Control consultation, including a response on Any Willing Provider will be published later in the spring.

March 2011

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