Ruth Thorlby, Assistant Director of Policy at the Health Foundation, said:
‘We already know that patients across the country are finding it harder to access general practice as a result of major shortages of GPs. But it is notable that those in the poorest areas report greater problems – our analysis found that a GP in the most deprived areas will be responsible for 370 more patients than one working in the least deprived. The Prime Minister has made a clear pledge to address these issues but the scale of the workforce challenge presents a major hurdle and any solution must tackle the inequalities that currently exist in primary care.
‘We also know that patients arriving at A&E are sicker than ever before, and more likely to need admission. This reflects that more people are living and ageing with chronic illness and often, multiple conditions, which are worse in poorer areas. While fixing primary care is an urgent priority, this alone won’t solve the problems facing A&E services. We need to see broader solutions that ultimately impact on the number of people in need of hospital care. This includes urgently finding a solution to the social care crisis and investing in services that prevent ill health in the first place.’
Without urgent policy action, GP shortages will get worse.
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