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Major inquiry highlights the urban-rural divide in accessing health and care 

RURAL

The conclusions of a three-year inquiry into rural health and care by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Rural Health and Care and the National Centre for Rural Health and Care (NCRHC) has been published.

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) welcomes the publication of this report and agrees that, for too long, a fifth of England’s population living in rural or coastal communities have “experienced poorer access to health and social care services than their counterparts in urban areas”. The report clarifies that the needs of rural health and care organisations fundamentally differ from those in urban areas.

NALC urges the government to address the issues and level out and levelling up to reach rural communities facing distinct health and care challenges.

The inquiry gathered evidence that made clear that many rural residents are comparatively disadvantaged throughout the life-course, despite the “social duty to promote equality” embodied in the NHS Constitution.

The inquiry concludes that these disparities arise from a combination of factors. These include the availability of professionally qualified staff, limited public transport, and poor broadband and network access.

The report also highlights the need for better data and data collection methods. The existing criteria used are inappropriate for more sparsely populated rural localities, not properly reflecting rural needs. There is an urgent need to address this because data influences funding for both the NHS and Social Care and plan services effectively.

The report calls for a joined-up, place-based approach to measuring health and care, one that is relevant specifically to rural circumstances, where data is viewed through a rural lens.

Read the full report

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