Supply of GPs and detection of hypertension in England associated with premature mortality rates

General practitioner numbers appear to have a small but important influence on premature mortality rates in England, according to research led by Professor Richard Baker from the Department of Health Sciences.

The study, published in the journal BMJ Open, records lower levels of premature mortality in less deprived practices – which could support the case for strengthening general practice throughout England.

Professor Baker explained: “We have conducted a study using data on 7,858 general practices in England for 2010 to investigate associations between mortality under aged 75 years and population and general practice characteristics.

“The findings show the importance of population characteristics such as deprivation, but also show associations between general practice characteristics and mortality. Better detection of hypertension was associated with lower mortality, and more general practitioners per 1,000 patient population were associated with lower mortality. Although the study only demonstrates associations, it supports the case for strengthening general practice.”

The study suggests that population variables, particularly deprivation, were the most powerful predictors of mortality and that practices with greater levels of diabetes, more smokers, more white patients and greater deprivation had higher levels of premature mortality overall.