Levelling up or left behind? are GP training opportunities in Northern Ireland widening or closing the gap on health inequalities?

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 under-served, socioeconomically deprived areas.

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

Design and Setting: Socioeconomic deprivation indices and scores of GP practices in Northern Ireland were calculated.

Methods: We compared the socioeconomic deprivation indices and scores of GP postgraduate training practices 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, 171 (54%) were registered as postgraduate training practices with a mean deprivation score of 3.02 (95% CI 2.91–3.12) compared with non-training practices’ higher mean deprivation score of 3.2 (95% CI 3.01–3.33), P-value
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 social economic deprivation is not increased.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBJGP Open
Early online date05 Apr 2023
Publication statusEarly online date - 05 Apr 2023


  • Family practice
  • Health inequities
  • General practice
  • Primary health care
  • Healthcare disparities
  • Social deprivation


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