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Council leader calls for action over postcode lottery and city’s shortage of GPs
Bradford Council leader David Green has called for more funding and powers to be devolved locally after a survey revealed Bradford is suffering in a postcode lottery for GP services.
Research carried out by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) showed a stark divide in access to doctors, with people living in the most deprived communities facing the longest waiting times.
The study found 22 per cent of people in Bradford raised concerns about not being able to make an appointment with their GP. But the figure was just five per cent in Bath and north-east Somerset.
The poorest appear to be the hardest hit by this patchwork of provision, with eight of out of ten areas with the longest GP waiting times having moderate to high levels of deprivation.
The College said the research, based on the GP Patient Survey, showed the profession is “creaking under the weight of a growing and ageing population”.
They have launched a campaign to demand an extra £3.5 billion a year to be ploughed into GP services, and have put up posters in surgeries showing patients having to queue down the street for an appointment unless extra cash is found.
Now, Councillor Green, who is also chairman of the Bradford and Airedale Health and Wellbeing Board, says a shortage of GPs in Bradford and an increasing population have lead to services becoming strained.
He said: “It’s about time somebody wakes up and recognises what is happening in Bradford. More cash clearly is needed to provide us with more GPs.
“One of the problems is that there is a shortage of GPs in Bradford, alongside a growing population, so the demand is increasing. We already have a large level of demand. GPs surgeries are under severe pressure already.
“I know that we have raised this issue in public previously and I hope that somebody will listen.
“If they are serious about devolving powers to local authorities they should start doing it. Every time somebody tries to do something different, we are told it’s not in line with their policies.”
Dr Maureen Baker, chairman of the RCGP said: “There is now a desperate shortage of GPs in many parts of the country, leaving the service teetering on the brink of collapse.
“Over the last decade, investment in general practice has slumped and has now reached an all-time low, with GPs conducting 90 per cent of NHS patient contacts for just 8.5 per cent of the total NHS budget.”
NHS England said they are recruiting and training more GPs. A spokesman said: “Patients should have good access to health services, regardless of where they live.
“This year, for the first time, NHS England introduced a deprivation factor into local health budgets to start to redress historic funding issues.”
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