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White paper to plan how to attract GPs to deprived areas, Javid hints

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By Costanza Potter
26 May 2022

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An upcoming white paper on health disparities could set out a plan to attract GPs to work in deprived areas, the health secretary has suggested.

Speaking at the Onward Social Fabric summit yesterday, Sajid Javid said that the Government will publish a health disparities white paper ‘shortly’.

It will tackle issues that have been ‘neglected for far too long’ such as ‘a lack of doctors in deprived communities’, he added.

Mr Javid told delegates: ‘This white paper will contain our plans across a wide range of areas including on reducing obesity, tackling addictions, and to help people to stop smoking.

‘The white paper will also tackle a host of other issues that I believe have been neglected for far too long – from sickle cell disease to a lack of doctors in deprived communities.’

Earlier this year, a proposal for boosting GP numbers in under-doctored areas via the Health and Social Care Bill was dropped.

The House of Lords was not invited to take a decision on an amendment to the Bill, which had proposed that GPs should be mandated to work in deprived areas.

And in November, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) had distanced itself from news reports claiming that GPs would be forced to work in deprived areas to tackle inequalities.

Meanwhile in Scotland, the health minister has pledged to look at increased funding to attract more GPs to work in rural areas.

Meanwhile, speaking on the topic of prevention, the health secretary said that in ‘just a few years, patients will be able to benefit from personalised dietary advice and exercise routines’.

However, he did not set out who would provide this and whether GPs would have a role.

And Mr Javid also said that ‘routine vaccinations’ should follow the ‘community-centred approach’ of the Covid vaccination programme, where jabs were delivered in ‘churches, clubs and cricket grounds, right in the heart of their local communities’.

He said: ‘Just as we’re learning from the successes in developing and procuring new vaccines and treatments, we must take forward this community-centred approach and apply it to other routine vaccinations wherever possible.’

It comes as NHS England documents have revealed that a ‘long-term NHS vaccination service’ is now under development.

In January, the health secretary told MPs that a ‘national vaccination service’ is needed to ensure GPs are not asked to stop routine care again, as they did during the Covid vaccination programme.

Controversially, he also suggested the service could cover ‘other vaccines’ as well as Covid jabs – potentially representing a huge shake-up to GP funding.

This story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.

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