GPs urged to speak out against 'national shame' of health inequalities

GPs must use their 'strong voice' in the community to help tackle the 'national shame' of widening inequalities in health, a senior doctor has said.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore (Photo: Pete Hill)
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore (Photo: Pete Hill)

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, former president of the Royal College of Physicians, told GPs at the annual RCGP conference in Liverpool that they could act as ‘powerful advocates’ for change and help to influence decision-makers within and outside healthcare.

In his speech, he said GPs were well-placed to understand their communities and their public health knowledge base would be an important factor in closing the widening gap.

He said: ‘While the solutions [to health inequalities] are largely outside healthcare, I think effective individuals and communities need the support of the health system, particularly their most effective voice, the doctors, to help create enabling conditions for them to take action.’

He described health inequalities as a ‘national shame’ that could ‘only be remedied through social justice’, which he urged GPs to lend their voice to.

This should include pushing for better early-years care and education, as well as policies that can reduce health inequalities.

Professor Gilmore said it was also important to recognise the opportunities to improve public health in the NHS reforms.

He said: ‘Reorganising the health service is dangerous and we have to be aware of the risk of moving the pieces of the jigsaw around. But there are opportunities, and I think we have to use those.

‘I think CCGs are really powerful opportunities. The CCG in Liverpool has been really dynamic in putting together a healthy Liverpool programme concentrating on prevention of disease. Health and wellbeing boards undoubtedly give us an opportunity, as does the move of public health into local government in getting local authorities on board, and that is absolutely key.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Flu surge drives up pressure on general practice

Flu surge drives up pressure on general practice

GP consultations for flu have spiked over the past two weeks, taking levels of the...

General election 2019: five GPs elected as three lose seats

General election 2019: five GPs elected as three lose seats

Five GPs have been elected to parliament, while three high-profile GPs lost their...

What does the 2019 general election result mean for GPs?

What does the 2019 general election result mean for GPs?

General practice is struggling with a workforce in decline, rising demand and a share...

Practices report falling private fees income for second year running

Practices report falling private fees income for second year running

A third of GP practices have seen their income from private and professional fees...

New average fees released for GP private and professional work

New average fees released for GP private and professional work

GP practices can update their prices for non-NHS services following the publication...

Why manifesto promises of more GPs may not make general practice safer

Why manifesto promises of more GPs may not make general practice safer

Politicians of all stripes have promised more GPs during the general election campaign,...