The National Centre for Rural Health and Care has published a response to the government’s NHS Long Term Workforce Plan highlighting the unique role of rural GPs.
NCRHC, which is supported by the DDA, stresses that there are distinct challenges facing rural and coastal communities when it comes to health, and it calls on responsible organisations to ensure there is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to their plans.
In rural settings without ready access to A&E, urgent care centres, pharmacies and dentists, a disproportionate additional burden falls on rural primary care teams. Proposals in the response include the development of Rural Clinical Schools, opportunities for rural experience and potential for additional rural qualifications.
The response highlights the government’s focus on digital solutions and acknowledges the important role technology must play in this field. However, it highlights the connectivity issue in many rural communities and the growing digital divide in these areas. The Centre says the organisations responsible for implementing the NHS Workforce Plan have a great opportunity to tackle the longstanding rural workforce issues.
NCRHC Chair Jan Sobieraj said: “Rural communities can receive an inferior service to urban ones. Rural primary care is uniquely placed to support the local health and care system but it needs a new approach if its full potential is to be realised. This is an opportunity we cannot afford to squander.”
In a new rural Call to Action, the DDA has also highlighted specific inequalities for dispensing patients. Dispensing GPs are invited to contact local politicians via a template letter, available online.