New research by palliative and end of life care researchers at ARC South London is seeking to understand how services provided by GPs have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The study is being led by Professor Irene Higginson, King’s College London, the ARC’s palliative and end of life care theme lead. 

Our aim is to evaluate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on general practice service use in end-of-life patients. This is important for recovery planning, improving access to services and better preparing for future public health emergencies

Professor Irene Higginson, King’s College London

The research team anticipate that the results will help to shape and inform policy decisions on how to better improve GP access for those who have been particularly affected by the pandemic. They also highlight that understanding patient and demographic factors associated with GP referral, consultations and prescribing is important to reduce inequality. 

How will the project be carried out?

The researchers will use an existing dataset from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink – a database containing over 50 million anonymised patient records to identify patients who died before and during the pandemic and their interactions and contacts with the GP during this time.

The team will extract anonymised patient information relating to GP consultations, GP referrals and prescriptions. They will use statistical methods to explore the association and compare the frequency of GP service use before and during Covid-19 pandemic to see whether there are changes in consultations, referrals and prescribing. They will also explore what patients and demographic characteristics are associated with any changes. 

This project is expected to finish in March 2022.