New body vies to tackle the challenges of rural health and care

A new membership organisation, dedicated to rural health and care across England, has been launched.

The new Rural Health & Care Alliance (RHCA), which has been established by the Rural Services Network (RSN) and National Centre for Rural Health & Care (NCRHC), aims to provide news, information, innovation and best practice to those delivering and interested in rural health and care across England.

The alliance has been launched at a time when elderly and vulnerable people living in rural parts of the country are facing a crisis situation in terms of poor access to social care, health services and child social care.

This is despite older people making up a significantly higher percentage of the total population in rural areas than in urban ones, and more than one in nine rural people currently providing unpaid care.

Members of the new alliance include several hospital trusts, regional Public Health England bodies and public health departments of rural councils.

The aim of the alliance is to keep members informed of the National Centre’s activity and the related activity of the RSN on rural health and care and give them the opportunity to influence both organisations work.

The RHCA’s core values will be supported via its work and include seeking equity of health and care for rural communities, creating a strong collective voice for those involved in rural health and care as well as raising awareness of the challenges faced in rural health and care provision.

Commenting on these developments, Prof. Richard Parish CBE, NCRHC executive chairman, said:

 We have a unique opportunity to bring issues, concerns and examples of good practice together at a national level to affect rural health and care provision and impact healthcare outcomes in our rural communities”

Graham Biggs, MBE, chief executive of the Rural Services Network, added: “This is an exciting new opportunity for organisations involved with, or interested in, rural health issues to join together in common cause.

“The new Alliance is open to NHS Trusts, CCGs, acute hospital, medical schools, colleges, professional institutes, universities, as well as commercial and independent bodies with a specific interest in rural health.

We are open for business: We will be a more powerful influence the more members that join us.

Meanwhile, efforts continue apace to help farmers throughout the UK deal with the ever-growing challenge of anxiety and depression.

A case in point is the recent launch of a new a new video by Lincolnshire Rural Support Network (LRSN), telling the organisation’s story and how it helps farming and rural families in that county.

The video is narrated by LRSN’s project manager, Alison Twiddy and draws on her experiences and those of her fellow LRSN caseworkers and supporters, who have built the range of services available today.

The video’s release comes at an opportune time for LRSN as the organisation looks to recruit a new front-line health and wellbeing lead. The new post reflects the increase in stress and mental health-related cases that the organisation is experiencing.

Alison Twiddy explained: “LRSN has reached a turning point.

Last year we held a strategy day to take stock and plan for the next three to five years. Emerging from those discussions, our trustees saw the growing need for a professional, mental health-qualified member of staff.

“Our statistics show us that nearly two-thirds of the calls and cases we deal with have some mental health aspect. So, we have now advertised for someone with experience and qualifications and hope to appoint them in the coming weeks.

“However, as our organisation grows and we provide help and support for more families in need, it is obvious that we need to raise more funds to maintain and expand our front-line services.

“Our new video tells our story and will, we hope, prompt more supporters to help both practically and financially.”