GPs should be banned from new jobs in affluent areas to help address disparity with poor towns, think tank report says
- A think-tank says that GPs could be made to work in poor ‘under-doctored’ areas
- The new report shows poor areas have almost half number of GPs as richer areas
- Figures show Government lagging behind its target of 6,000 more GPs by 2024
GPs could be forced to work in deprived areas as part of plans to close the gap with more affluent areas, it was reported last night.
A former senior official has called for a regulator to decide where family doctors can set up new practices as a way of improving health service provision in poorer parts of the country.
According to a report from the Social Market Foundation think tank, poor areas can have almost half the number of doctors per head as richer places.
The report goes on to stress that the need to close this gap is an essential part of Boris Johnson’s levelling-up agenda, according to the Times.
It comes as Health Secretary Sajid Javid pledged to tackle the ‘disease of disparity’ that causes poorer people to die almost a decade earlier than the richest.
Figures show there is one full-time GP for every 2,289 patients nationwide.
This falls to one GP per 1,688 patients in Oxfordshire and 1,731 patients in West Suffolk.
GPs could be forced to work in deprived towns in a bid to close the gap with more affluent areas under government plans, according to a new report from the Social Market Foundation
Some four in ten appointments are still not being carried out face-to-face, figures showed. The above graph shows the proportion of appointments that have been face-to-face since September two years ago
However, there are 2,833 patients for each GP in Fylde and Wyre in Lancashire, 2,761 in Hull and 2,559 in Portsmouth.
Towns can see a greater disparity than cities, with Blackpool North having 4,480 patients for each full-time GP. This figure is drastically lower in Blackpool South, with 1,900.
Experts have called for the return of a body called the Medical Practices committee which had the power to refuse new GPs’ applications in areas that already had a sufficient number of doctors.
John Gooderham, a former secretary to the Medical Practices committee, which was abolished under Tony Blair’s premiership, has said a similar practice should be reinstalled to help prevent areas from being ‘under-doctored’.
In an essay for the Social Market Foundation, he wrote: ‘Deprived areas are being worst affected by shortages of GPs. That trend is increasing, and is widening health inequalities.
‘Where GPs work should no longer be left entirely to market forces, as has happened for the past 20 years.’
Here are the top 15 countries where overseas trained GPs got their original qualification. India accounts for the vast majority of these overseas trained GPs, accounting for one in three, followed by Pakistan and Nigeria. Ireland and Germany are biggest EU contributors to overseas trained GPs in England
This map shows the percentage of GPs in each Clinical Commissioning Group in England which originally trained overseas. The nationwide total of foreign trained GPs is 20 per cent, but there is massive regional variance. Some areas have recorded more than half of their GPs as having got their original qualification from a non-British nation
Mr Gooderham does not want to see GPs being told where they must work as this would be ‘strongly opposed’.
But he said having the option of restricting where GPs could work, even if this is never put into practice, is less draconian.
He added: ‘A GP would realise they wouldn’t be allowed to work in that over-doctored area, and would decide to work somewhere that was under-doctored instead.’
Currently, the NHS is using £20,000 bonuses in a bid to encourage new GPs to move to areas that are under-doctored.
But the Government is lagging behind on its target of 6,000 more GPs by 2024, according to Sajid Javid.
James Kirkup, director of the Social Market Foundation, said: ‘Anyone who wants to level up the country should address this by getting more doctors to work where they’re most needed.’
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