Fears over healthcare inequalities

HEALTHCARE gaps between rich and poor areas of Suffolk mean GPs in less affluent areas are less likely to prescribe expensive drugs than those in more wealthy areas.

HEALTHCARE gaps between rich and poor areas of Suffolk mean GPs in less affluent areas are less likely to prescribe expensive drugs than those in more wealthy areas.

The new research was revealed in a study from public health experts who found that the inverse care law - which says those with most need for treatment are least likely to access it - is impacting the county.

They also claim it is resulting in higher emergency admissions among people from poorer areas.

Dr Jeptepkeny Ronoh, specialist registrar in public health for Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT), who co-authored the report, said: “We found that prescribing tended to be higher in practices that were in more affluent areas and lower in less affluent areas.

“It is not something new. It has been observed before - the inverse care law - that those most in need are less able to receive care effectively.

“We thought the reasons could be because people in less affluent areas didn't go to see their GPs whereas people in more affluent areas may be more likely to see their GP.

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“People in less affluent areas may also be less able to articulate their health needs and use healthcare services effectively.”

She stressed that the data was collected at a practice level and could not be used to show poorer people were less likely to be prescribed better drugs.

Instead, it showed that GPs in less well-off areas prescribed fewer drugs and spent less on them than GPs in richer areas.

But she added that the information could be used to tackle disparities in health, a key area of concern for Suffolk PCT.

“It has helped target resources towards areas where there might be inequalities in health care,” she added.

Does more need to be done to tackle health inequalities in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.