The Rural Services Network calls upon an incoming Government to:
- Ask its Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation (ACRA) to review the NHS resource allocation formula for Clinical Commissioning Groups, so that their funding more closely matches local levels of actual and predicted demand for services.
- Pursue rigorously the stated wish to see more of the NHS budget spent locally, so that rural communities have easier access to non-specialist treatments.
- Take urgent action to address a growing rural recruitment problem as many GPs and Practice Nurses retire. A career in rural practice must be made attractive and, if necessary, incentivised.
- Seek to resolve the financially unsustainable situation facing many smaller NHS district hospitals by removing their historic debt burden and allowing them more flexibility.
- Take more account of accessibility by public transport, including for rural communities, in NHS service planning and review exercises.
- Take steps to ensure that ambulance response time targets are being met in rural areas and emergency patients are not being left at greater risk.
- Support investment which can pilot and roll-out models of care delivery that are shown to be cost-effective and well suited to rural circumstances, such as tele-medicine and outreach services. The Airedale Telehealth Hub is an exemplar and access to fast broadband is, of course, key to such innovation.
- Resolve the threat facing a small number of GP surgeries that is a result of the phasing out of the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee, where their closure would create access problems for patients because no other surgery is close by.
- Ensure funding allocations to local authorities for public health services are put on a fairer footing, as a matter of urgency, basing them upon local demand and needs (rather than historic patterns of spend) and taking proper account of sparsity costs.
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