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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Child health fears as GPs threaten vaccine opt-out

Making practices bigger would encourage GPs to specialise and help reduce health inequalities, research by a leading think-tank has concluded.

The report from the Institute for Public Policy Research said an increase in GPs specialising in areas such as diabetes or older people's health would make choice more 'effective for the worst-off social groups'.

It added that the Government's existing choice agenda only benefited the 'healthy, wealthy and demanding'.

Joe Farrington Douglas, author of Equitable Choices for Health and research fellow at the institute, said many 'inequities' were the result of the organisation of primary care.

He said: 'Geographical restrictions can lock patients into areas where there is poor provision. Primary care should offer more specific services such as specialising in older people or diabetes ­ if you want to offer choice, a shake-up of practice boundaries would be needed.'

Dr Sam Everington, a GP in the largely deprived east London area of Tower Hamlets, questioned the conclusions.

He said: 'There is the issue of poverty and lack of cars. Also many ethnic minority women would not go to a GP without another family member.

'There is a lot of evidence showing that if you provide something local to people, they are more likely to attend.'

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