This site is intended for health professionals only

NHS "coping but not succeeding" in poor areas

The NHS is under achieving in poor areas in Scotland, researchers from the University of Glasgow have revealed.

Patients in poor areas in the west of Scotland had a greater number of psychological problems, more long-term illness and larger numbers of chronic health problems than those in more affluent areas.

Looking at 3,000 patients and their doctors in general practice, doctors working in deprived areas reported feeling under greater stress while patient consultations were shorter and less effective than those conducted in more affluent areas.

Graham Watt, professor of general practice and primary care, said: “The system is coping but it is not succeeding. Patients in deprived areas frequently have psychological problems in addition to many medical problems. If patients cannot be helped satisfactorily with psychological problems, good medical care becomes much less likely.”

He adds that the NHS should be seen at its best in helping the “neediest patients”, saying, “despite a decade of political rhetoric about addressing inequalities in healthcare, the NHS has still not squared up to this problem.”

The researchers concluded: “The increased burden of ill health and multi-morbidity in socio-economically deprived areas results in high demands on primary care and is associated with poorer access to care, less time spent with the doctor, higher GP stress, and lower patient enablement in encounters for psychological problems.”

University of Glasgow