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Patients face postcode lottery over GP access

Patients in the UK’s most deprived areas are four times more likely to struggle to get a GP appointment than those with the best access, a new RCGP analysis has shown.

The college’s analysis of the GP Patient Survey found that 22% of patients in Bradford reported they cannot get an appointment at their local surgery, compared with just 5% in Bath and North East Somerset.

The study found deprived areas were disproportionately hit, as eight out of the ten worst affected areas reported high-to-moderate levels of deprivation. It also showed areas with the fewest GPs had the most problems with access.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said general practice funding was urgently needed to address the access discrepancies, saying: ‘It is absolutely shocking that, due to the current funding crisis in general practice, patients are now facing a postcode lottery.’

‘It is doubly unacceptable that those patients affected tend to be those who live in deprived parts of the country. There is now a desperate shortage of GPs in many parts of the country, leaving the service teetering on the brink of collapse.’

‘To ensure patients across England can get the level of service they deserve we urgently need to recruit at least 10,000 more GPs. This increase would have to be underpinned by an increase in funding of general practice to 11% of the total NHS budget.’