Recognition of the problem
Sir Bernard Tomlinson's Report of the Enquiry into London's Health Service, Medical Education and Research (1992) starts with an excellent analysis of the particular problems associated with providing health care in the capital with its high density and turnover of population and disproportionate burden of severe deprivation. He emphasises the particular problems that arise because of the flow into London of vulnerable people with mental illness, drug addiction problems and alcoholism, many of whom are homeless. The consequent difficulties are compounded by the fact that primary health care and community services are poorly developed in comparison with elsewhere in the country and may not be easily accessible to those who need them most. Inadequacies in comprehensive service provision contribute to the high usage of accident and emergency departments as providers of primary health care, where community nursing services are expensive because of higher staff costs and where the characteristics of the patient population referred to above, make maintaining effective contact very difficult.
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