It can be notoriously difficult to book a GP appointment in parts of the UK at the moment. High demand and limited resources in some areas mean patients can be left waiting on the phone for long periods of time, struggling to get an appointment.
While this already makes things difficult, the physical distance to your nearest surgery can also be a barrier to getting the healthcare you need. This is especially true for people who struggle with mobility and those who don’t have easy access to a car or public transport.
Now a survey has highlighted areas that are on average furthest away from the closest GP surgeries. Using the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), care experts Guardian Carers have determined the average straight-line distance between homes and surgeries in various counties.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, rural areas are worst affected, with parts of Devon and Yorkshire clocking in with the greatest distances. A spokesperson for Guardian Carers said: “Many of these rural areas distance to a GP is inflated with the lack of infrastructure compared to more built-up areas.
“This is especially true if these same areas have limited to no public transport, and in addition, the fluctuating price of fuel in recent years.
“A small check-up can be the difference between a quick and instant treatment to a longer-term health concern and the distance needed to travel to a GP may play an important part in whether people make an appointment however as the winter draws in, spikes in colds, flus and other respiratory illnesses are common and it is expected that the pressure on GP services may increase; distance may not be the only factor affecting a person’s visit to their doctor.”
Where is worst affected?
As mentioned, rural areas seemed to have the greatest average distances to the nearest surgeries.
West Devon, located in the southwest of the country, came top of the list.
West Devon households were found to be, on average, 3.98 kilometres (2.47 miles) away from their closest GP, a small margin higher than any other area in England.
Taking second place on the list was the North Yorkshire area of Selby, with each household sitting 3.85km (2.39) away from their closest GP on average.
Coming in third place on the list was mid Suffolk, located in the east of England.
Households situated in the area were found to be, on average, 3.7km (2.29 miles) from their closest GP.
Both south Norfolk and north Norfolk made their way into the list in fourth and sixth place, respectively.
Data shows that households in the south of the county sit on average 3.56km (2.21 miles) away from their nearest GP, while households in the north are on average 3.39km (2.1 miles) away.
The Cotswolds area rounded out the top five, with households in the Gloucestershire district being 3.52km (2.18 miles) away from their nearest GP.
Of the 10 worst hit areas, Torridge in north west Devon had the shortest distance between homes and surgeries – 3.14km (1.95 miles).
The full ranking is as follows:
- West Devon – 3.98km
- Selby – 3.85km
- Mid Suffolk – 3.7km
- South Norfolk – 3.56km
- The Cotswolds – 3.52km
- North Norfolk – 3.39km
- Babergh – 3.24km
- Uttlesford – 3.17km
- Mid Devon – 3.15km
- Torridge – 3.14km.
As part of the survey, the ONS Health Index scores at national, regional and local authority levels, England from 2015 to 2021 were used.