More GPs required in deprived areas

31/10/2008

There needs to be a shift in GPs from affluent areas to more deprived areas where they are most needed, according to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee.

Publishing its response to the Scottish Government’s publication 'Equally Well', the committee calls on the Scottish Government to take a robust stance in its negotiations with the British Medical Association over the terms of the next GP contract. According to the committee’s Health Inequalities Inquiry, the current funding allocation formula for GP practices needs to be revised if deep-rooted health inequalities are to be addressed.

Convener of the Health and Sport Committee, Christine Grahame MSP, said: “We know that health problems for the most deprived people in Scotland are around three times those encountered by those living in affluent areas. Yet there is a flat distribution of GPs across Scotland. That cannot be right.

"We need to make sure that GP practices in our most deprived areas have the resources to enable GPs and nurses to address the often complex health problems faced by the people living in the most deprived parts of our society.

"The way that the funding formula currently works means that GPs working in deprived areas are financially disadvantaged compared to their colleagues working in more affluent areas. That is unfair both to the people working in the GP practices and the patients they serve. Clearly, it’s also a disincentive to GPs working in deprived areas. That is exactly why the committee has encouraged the Scottish Government to take a strong line in its negotiations.”

Background
The Health and Sport Committee undertook a short inquiry into health inequalities to inform its consideration of the Scottish Government’s document, 'Equally Well – the report of the ministerial task force on health inequalities'.

The committee took evidence from ‘on-the-ground’ health professional from Glasgow and the Highlands, as well as public health specialists and officials from local government and NHS Scotland.

The committee examined issues pertaining to health inequalities as a whole and, more specifically, those that relate to cardiovascular disease.