Spotlight on the RSP - October 18 Edition

The Rural Services Partnership continues to go from strength to strength

The RSP membership is very diverse representing those, both in the private and third sector, who wish to work with the Rural Services Network to fight for a fair deal for rural communities and deliver resilient and sustainable rural communities. Just this month we’ve been joined by TRL InsightOpenreachYoung Somerset and Able Community Care.

Here are some examples of the work undertaken by RSP member:

Dispensing Doctors’ Association

 ‘The life of a rural GP’

It’s Thursday morning at 11am. Northumberland GP Dr Rob Lambourn has just had a call that a trailer full of grouse-beaters has blown over in a storm. Among the eight casualties are a head injury with loss of consciousness, a back injury with convulsions, as well as numerous fractures.

The day before he was caring for a shepherd with terminal disease, receiving end-of-life care in his remote shepherd’s cottage.

When there’s no hospital nearby, and only one paramedic, providing emergency care becomes the job of the rural GP.  “Minor surgery and emergency care… suturing is part of my day”, says Dr Lambourn, who works in one of England’s most remote practices. “As a GP, we have to be skilled in all areas, including some intermediate care. We really do become ‘jack-of-all trades.

Dr Lambourn’s practice, in Wooler, has just 2,500 patients, but that does not make his job any easier. Compared to a more urban GP, his practice sees more long- term conditions such as diabetes/hypertension, specific rural illnesses such as snake and insect bites and poisoning, higher preventable death rates from conditions such as asthma and cancer, and less well controlled heart disease. 

That’s because his patients, compared to urban counterparts, have further to travel to access healthcare services and often over a more convoluted geography, and so are likely to present to the GP later, have a greater struggle to access to services such as Macmillan nurses and social care, use A&E less frequently, and are less likely to attend a hospital follow-up appointment.

Dispensing cross-subsidy

Like many rural practices, where there is difficult or no access to a community pharmacy, Dr Lambourn’s practice is authorised to dispense NHS medicines, as well as prescribe them. The income he receives from the dispensing service forms a vital part of practice finances.

Because of the wider range of services, he provides, the practice has to buy in more equipment, it has to pay more to incentivise qualified staff to work, and it has higher travel costs to reach patients living in remote areas of his practice catchment.  Staff recruitment and retention can also be issues, as potential GP staff and partners consider aspects such as support from secondary/tertiary care, professional development opportunities, as well as more social factors such as distance to nearest town, leisure opportunities and employment possibilities for spouses. 

Difficulties under the spotlight

At this year’s Dispensing Doctors’ Association Annual Conference, which takes place at the NEC, Birmingham on October 17-18, several presentations will highlight the unique challenges facing rural GPs.

In his presentation to the conference, DDA chairman, Dr Richard West, will call on the NHS and politicians to get to grips with the full range of benefits offered by rural GPs. He says: “NHS funding continues to fail to recognise the additional costs of providing low volume services over a wide geography and this needs to change.” Dispensing GP practice is the most efficient way of providing services in hard-to-cover areas, the conference will hear.    “Look after what you have. Once lost, rural GP practice is very difficult to replace. New systems will be more expensive.”

Outside of the Box

Outside of the Box supports people to make their communities better in Scotland and England. They are part of the RSP network and one of their projects ‘Tips for Days Out’ has been developed by the Food Buddies project Tips for Days Out, which provides practical tips for older people and their families, especially people affected by dementia – to encourage them to get out and about. Many of the people who helped develop the tips live in rural communities and want other people to enjoy their own local areas. It also has useful pointers for cafes and visitor attractions on ways to welcome customers who live with dementia or need some additional help. 

If you would like to find out more about the work of Outside The Box they can be contacted by email or by calling 0141 419 0451.

The National Youth Agency

The National Youth Agency (NYA) has recently joined the RSP. We are very pleased to be working in partnership with a highly respected youth organisation which has over 50 years’ experience of working with local government and youth services for 18-25 years old.

NYA is having a transformational year. We have engaged with our stakeholders to create a new strategy to guide our vital work in the coming five years and are committed to supporting local authorities and voluntary sector organisations to develop and deliver excellent services for young people to help them thrive.

None of us can do it alone and nor should we. There is excellent practice and innovation across the land and NYA are working to capture this and maximise the reach of the learning through our networks, resources and support services.

NYA recognises the huge impact and subsequent changes that the political and funding landscape has had on services. We have responded by engaging in national review, working with the APPG Youth Affairs committee to gather evidence from across England to inform recommendations for youth work and youth services. These will be finalised and shared at the NYA Summit at the end of October and will showcase the voice of a sector. NYA is also calling for a youth work covenant – a promise from the nation for young people to be safe and secure in the modern world, and treated fairly; supporting young people in the present and ambitious in the future. It is a step in creating a shared language and commitment to support collective impact sector wide and across government. It is rooted in the values and aims of youth work and the belief that communities are stronger when young people have a sense of belonging and have their views heard and respected.

Having the tools to steer best practice are essential for all organisations. We have engaged the sector in the review of NYA frameworks that we know have been highly valued by our sector partners. These are effective in supporting organisations to reflect on the quality and impact of the work they deliver with and for young people. Best of all, these are now free to all.

Quality Mark is built solidly on youth work practice, reflecting the most recent changes in services for young people and youth work and is applicable in organisations large and small. This is based on three key areas – young people’s personal social development and learning, the quality of youth work practice and leadership and management within the organisation. Hear by Right sets the standards for young people’s participation, ensuring organisations have this embedded across their practice. Both offer an option to go for a national award yet the power is in the process and the building of a bank of brilliance that can be showcased and shared to inspire colleagues across youth work.

The best youth work is delivered by those that are confident and competent, trained to understand and apply the principles and methodologies that make it so powerful. We are building qualifications pathways for all those working with young people, providing and signposting flexible and accessible initial training opportunities that enable volunteers through to youth work leads to grow their knowledge and skills.

Our strength is through our partnerships. To connect people across England and share learning and tools we established the NYA Network. This is the gateway to our support and information. Sign up for free and join us on the journey to push youth work and youth services back up the agenda, share what works best and together we can lead and learn.

Living Memories

Living Memories Community Interest Company, works with dementia patients using film archive and is working with the RSP to raise awareness about the challenges people face in rural areas of England who have dementia.

Brian Norris would like to tell you about a project called ‘Create a Memory Box’.

“If you are like me, whenever it is time to have a clear out at home I take a lot longer than intended because I come across things which bring back memories from the dim and distant past. Then I have to decide whether to throw them out or whether they should stay in situ for a bit longer.

Rather late in the year I have decided to adopt a new resolution that when I come across things which remind me of my past I squirrel them away in a small wooden container which has “Brian’s Memory Box” written on it. Of course, this means that I can’t include the big stone from Seaton beach but I can have a photo of the harbour or a Tramway ticket, both of which have stories attached to them.

I am sure that you will have small objects such as photos, jewellery or toys which remind you of different people, events and places that have been part of your life. Each one will give you an opportunity to look at them on your own and to chat with a family member, a friend or a perhaps a carer, who will then have an opportunity to learn something new to learn about your life. Children really enjoy looking at objects and guessing what they are or how you got them. The great thing is that you can be as imaginative as you like in what type of container you use for your Memory Box, how you decorate it and how many memories it contains.

These boxes are also very helpful to engage people who are living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Perhaps assistance may be needed from a family member or close friend to select the items with special meaning which should go into the box. The time that it will take to create and fill the Memory Box will be well rewarded with conversation and reminiscence when time hangs heavy.

It is quite a good idea to laminate photos and paper items, so that they don’t tear if used fairly often. If some objects are not so easy to identify or have particular family or historic interest, it helps to put a label on them. e.g. “Aunt Mary’s crochet hook 1932”.

If you would like to know more about creating a Memory Box the Macmillan Cancer Support website is very helpful or type “Making a Memory Box” into Google or other search engine.”

Enjoying collecting the memories of your life. For more information about Living Memories take a look at their website -

Promoting Rural Best Practice

Many of our members are keen to tell you more about their organisations excellent work and with this in mind we have developed a unique area on our website as a resource for them to do so. This can be found here.

Equally, the RSP are keen to provide opportunities for RSP members to promote their work to the wider RSN network of 25,000, which includes over 140 LAs, community organisations, rural businesses, and parish councils, to mention but a few. Members can send through this information by emailing Jon Turner.

Why Not Join Up!

The RSP exists to enable the issues facing the rural areas of England to be identified, information and good practice to be shared and government to be challenged to address the needs and build on the opportunities which abound in rural areas.

If you know a rural organisation that would benefit from membership, please ask them to consider joining us.  The RSP is a solely rural focussed organisation with an electronic distribution network in excess of 25,000 individuals.  We reach all sectors of rural England and provide a sustained and respected voice for rural areas at national level.  Anyone who wants to talk to us about our role and services of the RSP please at a look at the link  or contact Jon Turner to find out more.


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