NHS 'failing' poorer areas20th November 2007
A University of Glasgow study has shown that the health service is not delivering a high standard of service in poorer areas.
The study of 26 GP surgeries in the west of Scotland found that patients had a higher rate of illness and psychological difficulties. Appointments lasted less time than in more wealthy areas and GPs said they experienced more stress.
The study found: "The increased burden of ill health... 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 and higher GP stress."
The research involved 3,000 patients and their doctors. The study was headed by Dr Stewart Mercer, of the department of general practice at the University of Glasgow
It was released at the same time as the annual report from Scotland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Harry Burns. Dr Burns said that the difference in care between rich and poor communities needed to be tackled.
Professor Graham Watt, expert in general practice and primary care, said: "The system is coping but it is not succeeding."
He said the NHS should offer the highest standards when treating the most needy patients: "but... that is not the case."
He added that despite ten years of political arguments about health service inequality, the health service had not faced up to the problems.
Minister for Public Health Shona Robison said she was chairing a task force which would tackle health inequalities. The task force is due to report back to ministers next May.
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