Patients flock to GPs as rising cost of living causes mental and physical problems

A study by the primary health care journal Pulse also found that 16% of GPs are taking initiatives to help cope with the impact of rising energy costs. They include warm rooms for people. Doctors say the financial burden on patients is causing them to use less heat and eat unhealthy but cheaper food.

Gas prices have increased by 128 percent compared to 2022, while the cost of electricity has increased by 56 percent.

The average grocery store rose 16 percent year on year in December.

In recent weeks, it has emerged that Barbara Bolton, 87, of Bury, who died of hypothermia in December, could not afford to turn on the heat, according to her hospital records.

Julie Mitchell, assistant coroner for north Manchester, told investigators: “Her death was particularly hastened by hypothermia and there is a possibility of
heating, so her death was reported to the coroner.”

Pulse reported that one survey respondent said, “People mention that they just don’t turn on the heat now because they’re terrified of the bills they’ll get if they do.

“If we are talking about someone who is immunosuppressed or has a respiratory disease, it doesn’t really help them at all.

“When money is tight, you buy what is cheap and that basically means carbohydrates, so for many of our patients with diabetes, especially type 2, their HbA1c (blood glucose) levels go up and up, which obviously will have consequences. . the impact on their risks of things like heart attacks and strokes.”

Dr. John Hughes, chairman of the GP Survival group, told the magazine: “These numbers confirm what we have heard from members that the cost of living crisis is increasing the burden on both GPs and patients.

“Practitioners are unable to mitigate the increased workload as increased costs, especially energy costs, make it impossible for them to hire or retain staff.

“This is likely to further worsen GP burnout and exit rates from the profession.”

The NHS is still dealing with a backlog of patients caused by the pandemic, but Dr Kieran Sharrock of the BMA General Practice Committee in England said the general medical practice lost the equivalent of more than 1,900 full-time general practitioners since 2015 last week.

Professor Camila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “It is vital that the government ensures that patients, especially our most vulnerable patients – the elderly, those with chronic diseases and those living below the poverty line – whose health may be affected protected from rising food prices and energy bills.”

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