Background COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting people in low-income communities. Primary care staff in areas of high blanket deprivation (also known as the ‘Deep End’) have unique insights into the challenges posed by the pandemic. We aim to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of Deep End primary care practitioners in North East England, the most deprived region of the country.
Methods Semi-structured interviews followed by thematic analysis. 13 participants were interviewed (11 GPs, 1 nurse practitioner and 1 district nurse) with Deep End careers ranging from 3 months to 31 years. Participants were recruited via purposive and snowball sampling. Semi-structured interviews were conducted using video-conferencing software. Data were analysed using thematic content analysis. Participants were interviewed between September-December 2020, at the start of the UK second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Results Our results can be categorised into three broad themes: the immediate health risks of COVID-19 on Deep End general practices and patients; factors likely to exacerbate the effects of existing socioeconomic deprivation; and wider implications for remote consulting.
Discussion Deep End practitioners have valuable insights into the impact of social distancing restrictions and remote consulting on patients‘ health and wellbeing and on the delivery of primary care in areas of deep deprivation. Their experiences should guide future pandemic response measures and any move to ‘digital first’ primary care to ensure that existing inequalities are not worsened.
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