Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Welfare reforms increasing GP workload, harming patients, finds investigation

Date:
July 2, 2014
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
The majority of GPs in a survey say their workload has soared in the past year because of their patients' financial hardship under new government rules for receiving benefits. Two thirds believe patients' health is being harmed by benefit cuts, while many feel their professional opinion is regularly disregarded by those assessing people's ability to work.

The majority of GPs in a survey carried out by The BMJ say their workload has soared in the past year because of their patients' financial hardship under new government rules for receiving benefits.

Two thirds believe patients' health is being harmed by benefit cuts, while many feel their professional opinion is regularly disregarded by those assessing people's ability to work.

The investigation also reveals how employment advisers and welfare rights officers are an increasingly vital part of general practice during the austerity period.

Since 2010 the UK government has introduced a raft of reforms to the welfare system in a bid to reduce the deficit. But what have these meant for GPs' workload and patients' health and wellbeing?

A total of 1,056 GPs across the UK completed the survey out of 28,602 who were contacted. The findings suggest that people receiving welfare support due to illness or disability are struggling to cope with cuts to their benefits and are turning to their GP practices for help.

Most doctors say they are seeing an increase in patients with non-medical problems, such as debt, unemployment and housing issues, and many believe this is affecting patients' health, particularly those with mental health problems.

They are also being asked more frequently to provide medical information for their patients' Work Capacity Assessments (WCAs) -- and to help an increasing number appeal against the removal of their benefits under the new system.

Key findings include:

  • 94% of GPs say their workload has increased in the past year because of financial hardship among their patients
  • Doctors working in deprived inner city areas are most severely affected
  • More than half of GPs (57%) say they have filled in more WCAs for their patients in the past 12 months than in the previous year
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of GPs say they have seen evidence that their patients' health was being harmed by reduction to their benefits
  • 68% also say the new under-occupancy penalty or "bedroom tax" has increased their workload to some degree
  • Many GPs feel their professional opinion is too often disregarded by assessors sticking to a crude scoring system

Alongside the survey, The BMJ conducted a series of interviews with doctors, staff and patients at three GP practices.

Jonathan Gore, GP partner at the Lawson Practice in Hackney says the reforms have generated more work for the practice and diverted GPs' attention away from other areas, while Paul Driscoll, GP partner at Haven Health in Felixstowe is critical of the way WCAs are being carried out and is unhappy that the information GPs provide is often ignored.

John Canning, GP at the Endeavour Practice in Middlesbrough, believes older people in manual jobs may feel pressured to work beyond their physical capabilities and says GPs are in a difficult position when patients ask them to support their appeals against benefit reductions.

All three practices are increasingly referring patients to employment advisers and welfare rights officers to help with financial problems.

Hackney WellFamily Service runs a weekly session at the Lawson Practice for patients who have fallen into financial difficulty because of changes to the welfare system, while Felixstowe Citizens Advice Bureau holds weekly sessions at Haven Health to help patients with debt, employment and housing issues.

The Endeavour Practice employs a welfare rights adviser and an employment adviser to help patients with non-medical issues.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. G. Iacobucci. GPs' workload climbs as government austerity agenda bites. BMJ, 2014; 349 (jul01 9): g4300 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.g4300
  2. G. Iacobucci. GPs increasingly have to tackle patients' debt and housing problems. BMJ, 2014; 349 (jul01 9): g4301 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.g4301

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Welfare reforms increasing GP workload, harming patients, finds investigation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140702203908.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2014, July 2). Welfare reforms increasing GP workload, harming patients, finds investigation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140702203908.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Welfare reforms increasing GP workload, harming patients, finds investigation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140702203908.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins