Health and Social Care Spotlight - October 2019

This newsletter on rural health is provided for the RSN and the Rural Health and Care Alliance
It includes a roundup of rural health news, research, learning and best practice. If you have any information you wish to share with other members of the Alliance or case studies that you think others would benefit from, please let us know!
Please forward to colleagues if they are interested in rural health

Throughout all of our work, we campaign at the Rural Services Network for our rural communities and services. 
We believe that there are 8 key elements which make up a vibrant rural community. We also recognise that rural communities experience a number of rural inequalities which create Rural Vulnerability and this is a cross cutting issue across all of our priorities.

Click here to find out more about our priorities 
- To find out more about the priority: A Fair Deal on health and social care click here

News stories that have been featured on our website include:

Rural Homelessness Rising
Sky News has published research that reveals the number of social homes being built in rural England has fallen by more than 80 per cent over the last six years.

App helps emergency services identify those lost in rural areas
The Telegraph reports on a new app called what3words, which is being used by emergency services to identify people lost in rural areas
It was co-created by Chris Sheldrick, who developed an interest in postcodes and location services after visitors to his childhood home in rural Hertfordshire were ‘rarely able to locate [the] house’.

Bus journeys fall by 300 million in 5 years
It has been widely reported, including by the i paper, that the number of bus journeys have fallen by 300 million in five years.Analysis of government figures by the Local Government Association (LGA) shows 4.3 billion journeys were made in 2018 - 19, compared with 4.6 billion in 2014 -15. The LGA believes giving councils oversight of local bus services would enable them to maintain and improve them, as well as protect routes so older and vulnerable people ‘don’t get left behind’.

RSN provide a range of opportunities for colleagues to come together to discuss issues affecting rural health. Member organisations are welcome to attend these events for free.
Click the links below for more info:

Rural Health and Social Care Meeting 
This takes place in London twice a year.
The next meeting open to members, takes place on 2nd December 2019, an agenda will be issued shortly and will look at Rural Social Care and Health.

Rural Health and Wellbeing Seminar
Our regional seminar programme of 7 events includes one on Rural Health and Wellbeing in July. 
It was kindly hosted by West Suffolk Council and took place in late July. Open to members of the RSN and RHCA, there were 4 speakers who shared their expert knowledge with delegates. Kate Pym from Pym’s Consultancy, Sheila Childerhouse, the Chair of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Jonny Haseldine, the Parliamentary Assistant to Anne Marie Morris MP.  Full details and notes of the meeting are available at the link above.

In addition, the Rural Health and Care Alliance hosted a seminar on place based context for rural health and wellbeing which was open to all RSN members and took place on 24th September in Nailsea. 

There were three key speakers covering a local community approach to wellbeing through a hub approach, the highly successful Village Agent scheme in Somerset and a Herefordshire led approach to tackling the shortage of rural GP’s. 

The next seminar available for bookings will be held on 12th November in Lincoln, East Midlands focusing on Technology and Health. To book your place contact

Whitehall updates the Index of Multiple Deprivation
The 2019 version of this Index does not solve rural concerns, but it is likely to be widely used and should not be ignored, says Brian Wilson.

If prevention is better than cure, what more can be done to prevent Rural ill health?
A crisis-focused system has developed in health and care which is not only costly but also places enormous pressure on services. While efforts have focused on meeting immediate and acute demand, ill-health is not always inevitable and can often be prevented. In July 2019 the Government published a Prevention Green Paper setting out how it wants to prevent ill-health over the next decade. With Government prioritising prevention for the NHS and social care, what can we learn from our history of public health?
Jessica Sellick investigates.

The RSN's Observatory is the place to discover the statistics behind key issues facing rural communities in England, issues that the RSN is striving to highlight and tackle through its work. The Observatory is additionally a great place to understand the numbers that define the communities within our membership through an expanding group of analyses, with this body of work soon to be given its own area on the RSN website called Member Insights & Analysis.

It also includes statistics on Housing, Health & Wellbeing, the Economy, the Environment and Travel and Transport.

Services under strain in Dorset from growing elderly population
(16 Oct 2019, WessexFM)
Elderly people in Dorset will increasingly put a strain on health, housing and other services in the years to come.
Rural Dorset already has the oldest population in the country with the 65+ population expected to grow by 47 per cent over the next 25 years.  Within the next ten years 116,200 of over 65s will have a long-term health problem or disability, up by 20 per cent on current figure, while the number of over 85s will grow by 25 per cent in the decade.

Air pollution ‘triggers hundreds more heart attacks and strokes’,
(21 Oct 2019, BBC)
Higher air pollution in the UK trigger hundreds more heart attacks, strokes and acute asthma attacks each year, research suggests.
A team at King's College London looked at data from London, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton.
They calculated days with above average pollution levels would see an extra 124 cardiac arrests over the year.

Rural Doctor Shortage
(14 Oct 2019, Daily Mail)
The lives of patients in rural areas could be at risk due to a nationwide shortage of country doctors, experts have warned.
Around one in seven consultants (15 per cent) are taking jobs in countryside and coastal areas, leaving rural communities ‘under-doctored’, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has said.  It is feared local housing shortages and better career opportunities at more prestigious city hospitals are putting them off.

Some parts of UK aging twice as fast as others
(28 Oct 2019, Guardian)
Parts of the UK are ageing twice as fast as other areas of the country, while in some cities the population is getting younger, a divergence that will have a lasting impact on local economies, local government and national politics, according to new research.

Shropshire Community Health Trust
Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust is one of our Rural Services Partnership and also Rural Health and Care Alliance members, they provide community-based health services for adults and children in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, and some services in surrounding areas too.

They specialise in supporting people’s health needs at home and through outpatient and inpatient care.

Their focus is on prevention and keeping people out of crisis so that they can receive the care and support they need at, or as close to home as possible.

NHS community services may not always be as visible to the public as the larger acute hospitals, but they play a vital role in supporting very many people who live with ongoing health problems.

This is especially important in a large area such as theirs, with increasing numbers of elderly people and others, including children and young people, with long-term health conditions.

They have about 630,000 community contacts each year, the vast majority of which are with people in their homes, in community centres and clinics. A very small number of people also receive inpatient care in our community hospitals.

Good community health services prevent the need for some patients to be admitted to hospital, including those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, chest disease, arthritis, hypertension, osteoporosis and stroke.
People have told us that they should help patients manage their own condition and stay healthy enough not to have to spend time in hospital, unless they really need to.

This is especially important as we continue to care for an ageing population. They also have community teams that specifically work with patients who need additional or short-term care and support to help them return home from hospital as quickly as possible, or to avoid being admitted in the first place.

Everything they do is aimed towards Improving Lives in Our Communities.

Alzheimers UK are a member of our Rural Services Partnership
They have highlighted that people living with dementia could be eligible for a blue badge.

Their website states:
Blue badges are for people with severe mobility problems who need to park close to where they are going. This can apply to many people living with dementia, which can affect balance, co-ordination and spatial awareness. 

However the focus on mobility and walking means that many people with dementia who apply for a blue badge are turned down.

In 2018 the government announced that the scheme would be extended to people with hidden disabilities including people with dementia.  In August 2019 local authorities will implement new guidance issued by government on how to apply the new guidelines. 

Local authorities will continue to administer the Blue Badge Scheme and make the decision on whether a person meets the eligibility criteria for a Blue Badge.

For more information click

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System have recently joined the Rural Services Partnership and the Rural Health and Care Alliance.
They have been chosen as one of the very first areas in England to offer integrated care - a new type of care with even closer collaboration between health and wellbeing partners.

This means they’re joining forces with the NHS, councils and voluntary sector to coordinate services around the whole needs of each person.
It also means they have more freedom to manage local services and determine how money is spent on health and care. They are investing in what they know works best for their local community, like focusing on preventing illnesses and providing more services closer to where people live.

While some of their area is very urban, a large part is rural with all the issues around difficulties in recruiting workforce and transport potentially leading to isolation. They are committed to looking at how they can work together to resolve this issue including using technology to ensure all of their citizens, regardless of where they live, experience good quality care.

What is the Rural Services Network?

RSN is a membership organisation and the national champion for rural services, ensuring that people in rural areas have a strong voice. We are fighting for a fair deal for rural communities to maintain their social and economic viability for the benefit of the nation as a whole.
Our membership includes over 120 Local Authorities and over 170 rural service provider organisations.

What is the Rural Health and Care Alliance? 

The Rural Health & Care Alliance is a membership organisation dedicated to providing news, information, innovation and best practice to those delivering and interested in rural health and care.

It has been established through a partnership between the National Centre for Rural Health and Care and the Rural Services Network (RSN) and is affiliated to both the National Centre and the RSN.

Members will be kept informed of the National Centre’s activity and the related activity of the RSN on rural health and care and have the opportunity to influence both organisations’ work.


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