Practice patients seeking help for inflation crisis

Source: Practice Index

The cost of living crisis may be adding significantly to pressure on practices, according to a new survey.

Some 73% of GPs reported a “worrying” rise in the number of patients seeking help connected to rising prices, according to the Royal College of GPs survey. This includes patients seeking support with non-medical issues such as financial advice, the survey found.

Almost all doctors in the survey reported concerns that pressure from these patients would limit their ability to provide medical care. Some 1,855 doctors took part in the survey. The college says the findings back its care for improved funding for practices in deprived areas.

Chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne said: “Our survey results show the tangible and worrying impact that this is having on our patients’ health, and on the dedicated GPs who are caring for them. Our GPs witness daily the devastating health effects that the rising cost of living and spiralling deprivation is having on patients in many communities across the UK. The link between poverty and worsening health has long been established, taking a physical, emotional, and psychological toll which can result in the early development, or exacerbation of existing multiple chronic conditions.

“We’re also seeing patients with diseases that should have been confined to the annals of history – malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies and even rickets – presenting in many GP surgeries across the UK. GPs are doctors, not financial advisers or housing officers, but we are often the first ports of call in a crisis. Through links to social prescribing, general practice can and does offer a vital lifeline to many of the most vulnerable in society.

“GPs fully understand how social factors cause health inequalities and from there, serious problems in physical and mental health, but because they often have no power to make the changes needed, they are unable to offer solutions to their patients which get to the root of the problem. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that the areas most affected receive the least support to tackle the crisis.”

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