inverse care law

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inverse care law2016-12-28T00:47:29+00:00

inverse care law


Definition A rule regarding the provision of health care in the UK, which states in essence, that the availability of good medical (and social) care varies inversely with the needs of the population served. The disparity is exacerbated where medical care is most exposed to market forces.

Comment The so-called Postcode lottery in the UK, which regionally limits access to some NHS services, has been cited as an example of the inverse care law. Generally speaking, the poorer you are, and the more socially deprived your area, the worse your health and social care and access to it is likely to be. For example, well-off Kingston and Richmond, Surrey, has 50 per cent more GPs than deprived Barnsley. But drug prescribing, and notoriously, abortion services, have been capriciously dependent on the whims, and in some cases, religious beliefs of local doctors, regardless of postcode. And, in the relatively wealthy south-east, shortages of key workers such as nurses mean waiting times for hospital treatment are longer than in less well-off areas in the Midlands and the North.


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