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HealthThe well-off find it easier to see GP: Research says shortage of...

The well-off find it easier to see GP: Research says shortage of doctors hit the vulnerable hardest

Wealthier patients find it easier to get a GP appointment than those from poorer areas, a study suggests.

The national shortage of GPs was found to have hit the most vulnerable the hardest, according to the research. The study also found that nurses were taking on more roles traditionally done by GPs.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge looked at staff numbers in GP surgeries found in the most deprived 20 per cent of England. They then compared this data with figures for the areas in the most affluent 20 per cent of the country.

There were on average 1.4 fewer GPs per 10,000 patients in areas of high deprivation – though the inequality was even starker in some areas. 

The national shortage of GPs was found to have hit the most vulnerable the hardest, according to the research. The study also found that nurses were taking on more roles traditionally done by GPs (file image)

The national shortage of GPs was found to have hit the most vulnerable the hardest, according to the research. The study also found that nurses were taking on more roles traditionally done by GPs (file image)

The national shortage of GPs was found to have hit the most vulnerable the hardest, according to the research. The study also found that nurses were taking on more roles traditionally done by GPs (file image)




For example, some wealthy parts of Cumbria had nearly twice the number of GPs, at nine per 10,000 patients, as the poorest parts of England, the study in the British Journal of General Practice found. 

Lead researcher Dr John Ford said: ‘People who live in disadvantaged regions of England are not only more likely to have long-term health problems, but are likely to find it even more difficult to see a GP.

‘This is just one aspect of how disadvantage accumulates for some people.’

There were on average 1.4 fewer GPs per 10,000 patients in areas of high deprivation – though the inequality was even starker in some areas. Pictured: a woman waits for an appointment

There were on average 1.4 fewer GPs per 10,000 patients in areas of high deprivation – though the inequality was even starker in some areas. Pictured: a woman waits for an appointment

There were on average 1.4 fewer GPs per 10,000 patients in areas of high deprivation – though the inequality was even starker in some areas. Pictured: a woman waits for an appointment

The researchers called for urgent action to incentivise doctors to take up jobs in less well-off communities.




Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘Urgent funding is needed for initiatives to attract GPs to under-doctored areas, as well as recruiting more GPs to the profession overall and preventing… [burnout].’ 

About 778 GP practices have shut down since 2013 – including almost 100 last year.

Source: Daily Mail | Health News

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