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Gerada: 'I refer more patients to food banks than A&E'

Former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada has said she has had to refer more people to food banks than A&E last week, adding that it feels as though the nation is getting back to 1990s levels of deprivation.

Professor Gerada said that the tweet where she made the claim, sent on 28 March, had ‘touched a nerve’ with peopl and she felt the ‘safety net has disappeared’ in society, with people living in untenable housing situations and with no money for food to last them through the week.

A Pulse survey last year revealed that GPs are facing increasing pressure from patients hit by the recession, with one in six saying they have been asked to refer a patient to a food bank in the past 12 months.

This was followed by official figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre that revealed that the number of patients discharged from English hospitals after being treated for malnutrution rising 84% during the five years up until 2012/13.

Professor Gerada’s tweet has opened the debate again, being retweeted over 4,200 times:



Speaking to Pulse, Professor Gerada said: ‘It just struck me last week the number of patients I was seeing who had such deprivation, of the sort I haven’t seen for quite a while.

‘Having been a GP in the same area for 25 years, I used to see patients who on a Friday or Thursday had no money for food, or on the Monday hadn’t eaten all weekend and used to get emergency grants for them and bits and pieces, and I am struck by how it is happening again.’

She added that she was struck by how it seems ‘the safety net has disappeared again’.

People in Lambeth, Professor Gerada’s London borough, needed to be referred to food banks by GPs or other positions of authority, such as a school teacher, she said.

She said: ‘It is how it felt when I first started practice in the early 1990s and it feels like that again.’

Readers' comments (29)

  • So please vote Labour - who first came up with the wonderful idea of APMS contracts.

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  • I'm not sure if we should be referring anybody to AED - I refer to acute medical, surgical orthopaedics, paeds, opthalmology etc but to AED??? Surely we should have enough clinical competency and organizational strategy to ensure Pts are referred to appropriate specialities?

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  • Vinci Ho

    Fortunately , we have a staff from Citizen Advice Bureau coming to our surgery twice a week regularly. So we can refer to her directly as she holds vouchers to local food banks.
    Yes. Some people clearly have strong views about this creating dependency . But as I said in the past , many of these people are working with a low pay , hence , we are talking about poverty at work which is more related to the real picture . Of course, shameless politicians keep going on about all time high employment rate claiming themselves to be the saviour of the economy.
    The truth is the pendulum has been swung so much to the right that it needs to come back at least to the middle road.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Whether you believe in social justice or not , it is part of our western world democracy........

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  • Why political statements by GPs now during general election period? Such comments by GPs wont influence any GP on how they vote.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Interesting . Interesting.
    I wonder how many people are still undecided which way to vote.
    I always say even one day of politics is too long...,,,.

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  • I would love to know what % of those referred to food bank because of "no money" nevertheless had mobile phones, computers, games consoles, multiple TVs in their house, Sky subscription etc etc etc which they place as higher priority than food.

    Spare me the bleeding hearts.

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  • 1.42pm well let's go back to the days when people snooped around people's houses to see what items they should be without before grovelling for handouts. Seems incredible though that Clare has only just noticed how dire the situation is......which ever way GPs vote or try to influence others to vote wont make a blind bit of difference to the outcome

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  • Hey practice manager you are considered to be part of the problem by Labour ' and much of 'the public'.(wait for Daily Mail type posts)...too many managers' blah blah hope you don't have to go to the food bank or sell any of your belongings if you lose your job.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    I approve of foodbanks BUT... would not let them give food to smokers. People go on a lot about poverty but need to go somewhere like rural Egypt or a Berber village in Morocco to get an idea of the real thing.

    I would also be interested to look at the BMI of people who use food banks. Maybe there is a RCGP research project there??? Just saying......

    Sorry to be controversial!

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