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CMO calls for directed resources for rural areas

Annual report highlights the challenges of rural healthcare services

November 10th 2023

Tagged: political news Rurality England

By Ailsa Colquhoun

Rural areas should benefit from directed resources to manage the UK’s ageing population, the Chief Medical Officer has said in a new report.

Health in an ageing society urges the NHS, social care, and central and local government to start planning more systematically for the future needs of an ageing population and to concentrate the provision of health and social care in rural areas where older people live.

Currently, around a quarter of all people aged 65 and over live in rural areas in England and the age gap between rural and urban areas is widening: In 2020, the average age across all rural areas was 45.1 years compared to 39.4 in urban areas – a gap of 5.7 years, compared to 3.4 years in 2002.

The annual report by the CMO finds that rural areas are underserved in health care and that older people experience well-documented problems accessing primary and secondary healthcare services, as well as medicines.

The report predicts that areas such as Scarborough, North Norfolk or the south coast are going to age rapidly and predictably. CMO Prof. Chris Whitty said: “Providing services and environments suitable for older adults in these areas is an absolute priority if we wish to maximise the period all older citizens have in independence.”