Background In England, demand for primary care services is increasing and GP shortages are widespread. Recently introduced primary care networks (PCNs) aim to expand the use of additional practice-based roles such as physician associates (PAs), pharmacists, paramedics, and others through financial incentives for recruitment of these roles. Inequalities in general practice, including additional roles, have not been examined in recent years, which is a meaningful gap in the literature. Previous research has found that workforce inequalities are associated with health outcome inequalities. Aim To examine recent trends in general practice workforce inequalities. Design & setting A longitudinal study using quarterly General Practice Workforce datasets from 2015–2020 in England. Method The slope indices of inequality (SIIs) for GPs, nurses, total direct patient care (DPC) staff, PAs, pharmacists, and paramedics per 10 000 patients were calculated quarterly, and plotted over time, with and without adjustment for patient need. Results Fewer GPs, total DPC staff, and paramedics per 10 000 patients were employed in more deprived areas. Conversely, more PAs and pharmacists per 10 000 patients were employed in more deprived areas. With the exception of total DPC staff, these observed inequalities widened over time. The unadjusted analysis showed more nurses per 10 000 patients employed in more deprived areas. These values were not significant after adjustment but approached a more equal or pro-poor distribution over time. Conclusion Significant workforce inequalities exist and are even increasing for several key general practice roles, with workforce shortages disproportionately affecting more deprived areas. Policy solutions are urgently needed to ensure an equitably distributed workforce and reduce health inequities.
Nussbaum, C., Massou, E., Fisher, R., Morciano, M., Harmer, R., & Ford, J. (2021). Inequalities in the distribution of the general practice workforce in England: a practice-level longitudinal analysis. BJGP Open, BJGPO.2021.0066. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgpo.2021.0066