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20 August 2021

UK

GP shortage in more impoverished areas could widen health inequalities

County council warned against over proposed health cuts

International

India: Tobacco sales continue unabated in Amritsar

Links of the Week

SPECTRUM knowledge exchange workshops

Balancing consideration of the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes

UK

GP shortage in more impoverished areas could widen health inequalities


According to new research, poorer parts of England have fewer GPs per patient compared to wealthier regions, with academics warning of widening health inequalities. The study found that in more deprived neighbourhoods, a lack of family doctors is often compensated by nursing roles. But people in more impoverished neighbourhoods also had fewer patient-facing staff.
 
The study examined the number of GPs in each region for every 10,000 patients in the community. Researchers from the University of Cambridge found that between September 2015 and December last year, there were, on average, 1.4 fewer full-time equivalent GPs per 10,000 patients in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas.
 
Dr John Ford, the study’s senior author, said: “People who live in disadvantaged regions of England are not only more likely to have long-term health problems but are likely to find it even more difficult to see a GP and experience worse care when they see a GP. This is just one aspect of how disadvantage accumulates for some people leading to poor health and early death.”
 
Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “All patients should have access to the best possible GP care, regardless of their circumstances or where they live, […]. People living in deprived areas tend to have a greater number of long-term health conditions and more complex health needs, and therefore often require greater access to GP care and services. Urgent funding is needed for initiatives to attract GPs to under-doctored areas, as well as recruiting more GPs to the profession overall and preventing the ones we do have from burning out.”
 
Source: Evening Standard, 18 August 2021

See also: BJGP Open - Inequalities in the distribution of the general practice workforce in England: a practice-level longitudinal analysis

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County council warned against over proposed health cuts

 

National health experts are warning Hampshire County Council against making cuts to health visiting and school nursing services. The council proposes saving £6.8 million from its public health budget and cutting around 47 nursing posts, 12.5% of the workforce, including sexual health, substance misuse treatment, and stop smoking services.

The Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Sands, and the National Childbirth Trust wrote to the council outlining its concerns that the cuts will harm public health.

Nursing Times reports that in their letter, the group called on the council to “re-examine as a matter of urgency” the impact of the proposed changes on pregnant women, babies, children and their families. They warned against replacing face-to-face with digital support, stressing this was “untested” and that there was not enough evidence on its effectiveness as an alternative approach.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, the executive lead member for adult services and public health, said: “Thank you to everyone who has given their views. The county council’s public health service has worked hard to reduce its costs by improving efficiency and early intervention and prevention, thereby limiting the impact of savings on front line service delivery. However, opportunities to further reduce costs are getting harder, and extra pressures mean that an additional £6.8 million must now be found from a total budget of £52.9 million in 2021/22, to help the County Council to balance its overall budget.”

Source: Hampshire Chronicle, 20 August 2021

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International

India: Tobacco sales continue unabated in Amritsar

 

The Indian government’s cigarettes and other tobacco products act (COPTA) mandates a ban on tobacco sales within a 100-yard radius of educational institutions. Yet, vendors continue to disobey the Act in Amritsar – the second largest city in the Indian state of Punjab without fear of prosecution.

In addition to selling tobacco products near schools, the law also prohibits vendors from selling them to minors. However, at many of these shops, minors can be seen selling and purchasing tobacco products.

Around nine years ago, the city was designated as a “smoke-free city.” As part of the initiative, all government officials in the city were given responsibilities to penalise those caught smoking in public places. However, only officials from the Health Department and the Police Department joined the effort.

Residents said the guidelines related to the sale of tobacco products should be strictly enforced. A health official said: “Smoking at public places is a serious issue, but it cannot be checked by a single or two departments. It requires huge manpower to check violations in the entire city.”
 
Source: The Tribune, 20 August 2021

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Links of the Week

SPECTRUM knowledge exchange workshops

 

Two SPECTRUM knowledge exchange workshops are now open and available for applications.  The workshop is open to all interested colleagues who can attend in person, in line with Scottish Government public health guidance.

Early bird rates apply until 30th September, and applications will close on 9th November. Participant numbers are capped at 40 to ensure an effective learning and networking experience.

The workshops are:

 
  • Nicotine and Tobacco: Current issues, policy and practice workshop. This workshop is aimed at professionals working in a range of organisations who are interested in public health and policy. It will run from 23rd – 25th November 2021.
    Register here: https://bit.ly/nicotinetobacco2021

 

Balancing consideration of the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes

 

Fifteen past presidents of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco have co-authored an article that looks at the approach taken to e-cigarettes in the US and argues for change. It concludes that the negative view of e-cigarettes which has developed in the US is due to a heavy emphasis on protecting kids from vaping that has ignored the substantial benefits of e-cigarettes in helping adults quit smoking.

The article is published online in the American Journal of Public Health and a Q&A from the lead author Prof Kenneth Warner is here.

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