Fingertips Geography 

This page gives an introduction to the way areas are managed in Fingertips and lists in a log the changes to areas, area grouping options and other changes around geographies which are available in Fingertips.

Basic facts for geography management in Fingertips

Area code is key

Each area is identified by an area code. Where available, the 9-digit ONS code is used, however not all NHS organisations do have ONS codes and then ODS codes are applied. The main sources are:

https://geoportal.statistics.gov.uk/ and
https://digital.nhs.uk/services/organisation-data-service

For certain very specific area types where no official codes are given we created our own Fingertips codes. Area codes are also part of the URL. 

Area names can change

Each area has also a name (label) but this can change over time and only one version is stored. E.g. if the partner in a GP practice whose name used to be part of the practice name retires, the practice may keep the code but change the name). If the area code does not change, the area is in Fingertips-terms the same. The current label will be applied to all instances of the area (code) usage, even if for a past time point the current name is not the previously correct one.

If the code is the same, for Fingertips the area is the same

When in the process of an organisational merger one of the codes is retained and is then applied to a larger entity this can generate misleading time series. We try to address substantial changes with Value notes (asterisk next to the data with explanation on hover over) but there is no guarantee that such a change can be picked up in the data preparation process and a critical awareness of the user is also required.

Management of new area types and areas

We try to make new areas available as quickly as possible but in some situations where an area type is new and not very stable yet we make the decision not to include the areas in Fingertips (yet) or may decide not to follow each (e.g. monthly) change but stick to longer intervals to be able to provide some stability in the data.

Which GP practices are 'valid' for Fingertips is explained in detail in Inclusion rules and list.

Note: indicator owners are not obliged to use the latest geography, so displays can lag behind

The area type plus time period define which areas are listed

For the major geography types that often change annually (in particular: Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)) a fine-grained network of generations of geographies, specified by the time period when they were current, is set up. The time period (e.g. pre 4/2019) tells users who need this degree of precision exactly which areas are listed, it is not referring to the data and no indication which data periods are on offer. 

Back-filling data for completeness

Due to auto-aggregation and backfill processes we are often able to supply data for entities that were not yet current for a certain data point. E.g. we have values for new Unitary authorities (UA) for times when they were still split into districts because - where there is a valid method and the data is available - we estimate the UA value to be able to provide trend lines.

Change Log

ReleaseArea typeChangeDescription
April 2021 County&UA new latest generation added to reflect the current Upper tier local authority set up
April 2021 District&UA new latest generation added to reflect the current Lower tier local authority set up
April 2021 CCGs (since 4/2019) new latest generation added to reflect mergers valid since April 2021