Alarming new figures show the desperate shortage of GPs as rural areas are worst hit… and it’s a prescription for disaster for older patients

Posted: June 20th 2022


Although not directly cited our Chair Professor Richard Parish had a key role in the background to this report and briefed the lead journalist in some detail. The story tells us:

Last week, the Doctors in Unite union claimed the UK is short of 20,000 GPs. Whatever the actual figure, there is no doubt, as health think tank The King's Fund has put it, that general practice, the gateway to all healthcare in the UK, is 'creaking at the seams'.

In many rural areas, however, general practice is not only creaking, but dangerously close to coming apart at the seams.

More than 9.7 million people, around one fifth of England's population, live in rural areas — more than the entire population of London. Overall, they are disproportionately older than the urban population, and more likely to have complex, long-term medical problems.

Age UK has been monitoring the impact of the GP crisis on older patients, especially those in rural areas. In its most recent survey, 45 per cent said they were worried about their ability to access their GP.

Louise Jackson, the charity's health and care policy manager, told Good Health it would be a mistake to put this down to the pandemic.

'Access was obviously severely curtailed in the early part of the pandemic, but this has been a growing issue for older people for years,' she said.