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Health Services: Rural Areas

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 6189, tabled on 21 January 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that rural communities have adequate access to health care facilities.

Answered on

30 January 2020

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. Clinical commissioning groups benefiting from this health inequalities adjustment have been asked to report on how they are targeting that funding to improve the equity of access, experience and outcomes, and they will start to report later this year. As part of the Long Term Plan process all local health systems have been asked, as part of their overall delivery plans, to set out how they will specifically reduce health inequalities by 2023/24 and 2028/29 and their plans will be published shortly.