Ministers urged to act as GPs in poor areas ‘have less funding and staff’

Ministers urged to act as GPs in poor areas ‘have less funding and staff’
Exclusif: “ If the Government is serious about ‘levelling up’ the country then tackling underfunding needs to be a priority”, warns the Health Foundation

Ministers have been urged to act after a report found people living in poor areas face worse GP services with less staff and funding compared to more wealthy parts of the country.

GP services in poorer areas are underfunded, under-doctored and have worse-quality outcomes, according to a report shared with L'indépendant from the Health Foundation.

In its report, the think tank warned the problem, if not addressed, would put the government’s levelling-up promises at risk.

Ça disait 30 years of policies have failed to address inequalities in parts of the country and if ministers are serious about levelling up, they must “urgently” boost GP numbers in poorer areas and address unequal funding for these practices.

Selon its analysis, despite receiving similar funding per patient, practices in more deprived areas are “worse off” as this funding is stretched over a population with greater health needs.

The report said: “This trend has been consistent since 2015 and there is no sign of inequities in funding narrowing.”

The Health Foundation has urged the government to address the current funding formula they branded “inadequate”, as previous promises made to review GP funding allocations to make them fairer have yet to be met.

GP surgeries in poorer areas also have fewer doctors to serve the needs of their populations. On average GPs working in the poorest areas served 10 per cent more patients, compared to GPs in the wealthiest areas.

Despite promises to increase the GP workforce by 6,000, the number of GPs working for the NHS has decreased by more than 400 puisque 2015.

The think tank also found GP practices in the poorest areas record worse outcomes in various quality measures and, according to patient surveys for 2021, people in the most deprived areas were more likely to report having bad experiences with their GPs.

The report said: “Compared to wealthier parts of England, people in the poorest areas face a 12-year gap in healthy life expectancy and are more likely to experience multiple health conditions – creating a greater need for GP services in deprived areas.”

The Health Foundation has called for a workforce strategy for general practice which includes stronger central coordination and oversight of GP distribution across England.

It also argues current policies risk making the situation worse and to guard against this in future all new policies should be subject to an “equity test”.

Rebecca Fisher, senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation, mentionné: “If the Government is serious about ‘levelling up’ the country then tackling underfunding and under-doctoring in GP services in poorer areas needs to be a priority.

“The GP workforce is under pressure everywhere, but more so in deprived areas – where health need is greatest and GP numbers lowest. Policy efforts to address this have stalled in the past decade. Unless the Government takes rapid, meaningful action, rhetoric about levelling up will ring hollow.’

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