RCGP calls out devastating impact of health inequalities

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, featured in today’s Guardian responding to a study by Healthwatch England on health inequalities and access to care. Professor Hawthorne said:

"Workload in general practice is rising much faster than GP numbers – GPs and our teams are doing everything we can to ensure our patients get the care they need, but we know that too often patients struggle to access our services. The impact of this is felt by some patients, but especially those in our most vulnerable communities, more than others.

"Every day, GPs are witness to the devastating health impact of increasing deprivation in many communities across the UK. The link between poverty and worsening physical and mental health and wellbeing has long been established, and this can result in the development or exacerbation of multiple, chronic conditions. Caring for such patients takes time – far longer than the standard 10-minute appointment, that most practices are able to offer.

"We also know that funding cuts in primary care adversely impact communities with higher rates of deprivation, worsening the situation for some of our most vulnerable patients. Across the NHS, we have seen health inequalities worsen over the past decade, and this has been felt even more in recent years as the cost-of-living crisis has hit.

"If we are going to guarantee an improvement in patient access, continuity of care, and experience of general practice – and indeed, NHS - services, then we need to address the workload and workforce crises facing general practice. Our manifesto outlines seven solutions, including funding for recruitment and retention of GPs, to improve patient access to safe, timely and appropriate care – and give GPs the time we need to listen, share management options, and deliver the best possible care for our most vulnerable patients."

Further information

RCGP press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editors

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.