Are GP training opportunities in Northern Ireland widening or closing the gap on health inequalities? An analysis of Northern Ireland deprivation data

Daniel Butler*, Diarmuid O'Donovan, Jennifer Johnston, Nigel D. Hart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background: Increasing the GP workforce will not necessarily level up healthcare provision. Instead, increasing GP training numbers could worsen health inequity and inequalities. This is especially true if there are fewer opportunities to learn, train, and build confidence in underserved, socioeconomically deprived areas.

 Aim: To investigate the representation of socioeconomic deprivation in postgraduate GP training practices in Northern Ireland (NI). 

Design & setting: An analysis of socioeconomic deprivation indices and scores of GP practices in NI involved in postgraudate GP training. 

Method: The socioeconomic deprivation indices and scores of GP postgraduate training practices were compared against general practice in NI by examining the representation of practices whose patients live in areas of blanket deprivation, higher deprivation, and higher affluence. 

Results: Of 319 practices in NI, 195 (61%) were registered as postgraduate training practices and had a statistically significantly lower deprivation score (3.02±0.21) compared with non-training practices (3.2±0.32), t(255) –2.02, P = 0.041. The proportion of training practices with blanket deprivation and higher levels of deprivation was underrepresented, with the current postgraduate GP training practices having more affluent populations. 

Conclusion: Postgraduate training practices had a statistically significant lower deprivation score and did not fully reflect the socioeconomic make-up of wider NI general practice. The results, however, are more favourable than in other areas of the UK and better than undergraduate teaching opportunities in general practice. Health inequalities will worsen if the representation of general practice training in areas of greater socioeconomic deprivation is not increased.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalBJGP Open
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Daniel Butler was funded by Northern Ireland Research and Development through their support of the General Practice Academic and Research Training Scheme.

Publisher Copyright:
© This article is Open Access: CC BY license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Keywords

  • family practice
  • general practice
  • health inequities
  • healthcare disparities
  • primary health care
  • social deprivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice

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