In March, the Deep End project in Wales took another step forward. The scheme, supported by the Welsh Government, aims to empower GPs in economically disadvantaged areas to further tackle health inequalities.
A lot has already happened since the launch. Dr Harry Ahmed, a GP and Senior Clinical Lecturer in Epidemiology at Cardiff University, has been appointed as Academic Lead for Deep End Wales. Dr Kathrin Thomas has joined the project as Public Health Lead.
Chair of RCGP Cymru Wales, Dr Rowena Christmas, said: “The Deep End project is absolutely crucial for the people of Wales in these challenging economic times. We know children are going to school hungry yet are not eligible for free school meals. People are becoming more ill because they cannot heat their houses or afford to travel to hospital appointments.
“Every surgery sees us talking to patients about conditions that are made worse by poverty, and we need to support practices working in the most deprived areas to find solutions to these challenges.”
Last month, GPs met to discuss the next steps for Deep End Wales at Cardiff City Stadium. Discussions took place around seven core topics identified from the first meeting: patient literacy and advocacy; recruitment and retention; workload; mental health; complaints and low morale; elderly and co-morbidity; and education and training.
Deep End Wales is a pilot project for eighteen months after which Welsh Government will make a decision as to whether to continue and expand the scheme. As Deep End Wales Co-Chair Professor Peter Saul explains:
“There is a limited window. This is our moment. Of course, GPs cannot resolve inequality alone, but this is an opportunity to demonstrate that general practice is at the forefront of tackling inequalities which have blighted the life chances and wellbeing of some of our communities for generations.”
Practices serving patients in the 100 most disadvantaged areas in Wales as identified by the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation have been invited to take part in Deep End Wales. For more information on the project, you can contact DeepEndWales@rcgp.org.uk.