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Health Services: Rural Areas

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 210627, tabled on 21 January 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions (a) his Department and (b) the NHS have had with their counterparts in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland in relation those administration's policies on tackling rural health inequalities.

Answered on

29 January 2019

Although overall health outcomes are better in rural than urban areas, the Government recognises the specific challenges that rural areas face and the potential for certain health inequalities to develop. The Department continues to take a systematic approach to tackling health inequalities, and is committed to engaging with a range of stakeholders including the devolved administrations; encouraging spread of best practice and considering the wider drivers of ill-health in remote settings.

Within England, the NHS Long Term Plan sets out how the National Health Service will develop over the coming years and take stronger action surrounding health inequalities, including eliminating variation in quality of care across the country, building a workforce for the future, and embracing the opportunities of technology for rural communities.

NHS England has committed to continuing to ensure a higher share of funding goes towards geographies with high health inequalities than would have been allocated using solely the core needs formulae. This funding is estimated to be worth over £1 billion by 2023/24. All local health systems will be expected to set out during 2019 how they will specifically reduce health inequalities by 2023/24 and 2028/29. These plans will also, for the first time, clearly set out how those clinical commissioning groups benefiting from the health inequalities adjustment are targeting that funding to improve the equity of access and outcomes.