GP Deficit in Deprived Areas ‘Could Widen Health Inequalities’

New research from the University of Cambridge has found that a shortage of GPs in deprived neighbourhoods in England could ‘widen health inequalities.’

The research, which was carried out between September 2015 and December 2020 revealed that, on average, there were 1.4 fewer full time equivalent (FTE) GPs per 10,000 patients in the most deprived areas compared to more affluent areas. Published in the British Journal of General Practice, the study examined the number of GPs in each region, for every 10,000 patients within the community.

According to GP Online and data analysis from NHS Digital, the numbers of patients per FTE GP varies dramatically across England. In some areas, the average number of patients can be in excess of 3,000, whereas in other parts of England this number plummets to around 1,700.

The study found that in some poorer areas, the reduction in family GPs was often offset by nursing staff. However, the research also revealed that patients from these same socioeconomic areas had fewer patient-facing staff available to them.

Dr John Ford, the study’s senior author from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge, 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 and experience worse care when they see a GP.

“This is just one aspect of how disadvantage accumulates for some people leading to poor health and early death.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the general practitioners committee at the British Medical Association, said, “This research not only highlights the severity of the workforce crisis facing primary care, but also the dire consequences it’s having on deprived communities across the country – each one made up of real people, unable to get the timely care that they need.”


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Carrie Plummer - Editor & Content Manager

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