(c) Liverpool Echo
In the Observer today, confusing England with Britain, once again:
‘Fewer GPs are working in Britain’s deprived areas, despite government-funded incentives for new doctors to work among the poor. Wealthier areas, however, have seen the number of doctors rise. The exodus, uncovered by Labour MP Frank Field, is exacerbating the existing “under-doctoring” of deprived populations – the lack of family doctors in places where poorer people live. Experts said the widening divide between rich and poor areas in GP numbers – which is one of England’s starkest health inequalities – would force the least well-off to wait longer for an appointment, even though they are generally sicker and die earlier than the rest of the population.’
The evidence is entirely from England. The Herald and the Scotsman seem to have been able to resist the temptation to pretend it applies to Scotland and to blame the SNP for it after the former’s slap on the wrist for this case of misleading readers, reported in Hold the Front Page, two days ago:
‘The press watchdog has rapped a daily newspaper for erroneously reporting that statistics quoted in a report referred to Scotland – rather than the whole of the United Kingdom. The Herald, Glasgow, had blamed an “editing error” for the mistake, which had prompted a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation. The Herald’s story, which was presented in the context of a new report released by Oxfam, stated that the gap between “the haves and have nots” in Scotland was growing. It added that the new report revealed “that in Scotland, the richest one per cent has more wealth than the bottom 50 per cent combined”.’
There isn’t research evidence to directly prove there is no comparable problem in Scotland. That, in itself, is reassuring because if there was any evidence at all, you can be sure we’d have heard about it from Reporting Scotland and the others. What there is, is evidence suggesting it is less likely here, based on a superior number of GPs and of practices, across Scotland.
The latest figures for the number of GPs in the UK are:
- 41 985 GPs in England – last published in Sept 2016
- 4 953 GPs in Scotland (does not include locums) – last published Jan 2017 (350 locums in 2015)
- 2 887 GPs in Wales (includes 634 locums) – last published 30 Mar 2016
- 1 274 GPs in Northern Ireland (does not include locums) – last published Oct 2015
The number of locums in Scotland in 2015 was 350.
So, the ratio of GPs to overall population is:
- England 1 GP for every 1262 people
- Scotland 1 GP for every 999 people
- Wales 1 GP for every 1060 people
- N Ireland 1 GP for every 1421 people
The number of GP practices is:
- 7 613 in England – last published in Sept 2016
- 958 in Scotland – last published Jan 2017
- 454 in Wales – last published 30 Mar 2016
- 349 in Northern Ireland – last published Oct 2015
The number of practices is a limited statistic, nevertheless, it could give an indication of access in terms of geography.
The ratio of practices to overall population is:
- England 1 practice for every 6962 people
- Scotland 1 practice for every 5532 people
- Wales 1 practice for every 6746 people
- N Ireland 1 practice for every 5189 people
The relatively large number of practices in Northern Ireland, despite having the worst ratio of GPs to population might suggest a tendency only for smaller practices there. In contrast, Scotland having the best ratio of GPs to population along with a relatively high number of practices suggest better geographical access.
Above figures are from the BMA’s General practice in the UK – background briefing 2017