Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors’ concerns over universal credit are mounting

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 05 December 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k5131
  1. Sophie Arie,
  2. freelance journalist,
  3. London,
  4. UK
  1. sophiearie{at}

GPs are seeing increased workload related to the benefit change, reports Sophie Arie, while public health professionals hear of people considering suicide

Mark Dornan is a general practitioner in a practice in Teams, one of the most deprived areas of Gateshead and of the UK. Years of austerity and cuts to public health and social services have put a strain on the local population. Recently the practice staff have begun to wonder, he says, if they should be giving out food.

“We haven’t seen this level of deprivation before,” Dornan tells The BMJ. “We feel so upset seeing people in such difficult situations.”

Universal credit, the controversial new benefits system being phased in gradually across the country, was introduced in Gateshead in October 2017. Since then, Dornan has seen a steady flow of patients with mental health problems triggered or made worse by the changes. At least one consultation in each of his surgeries is now “universal credit based,” he says.

Dornan …

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