Health and Social Care Spotlight - August 2019

This newsletter on rural health is provided for the RSN and the Rural Health and Care Alliance
It includes a roundup of rural health news, research, learning and best practice. If you have any information you wish to share with other members of the Alliance or case studies that you think others would benefit from, please let us know!
Please forward to colleagues if they are interested in rural health

News stories that have been featured on our website include:

Drug Crime in Rural Communities
Research from the BBC today shows drug crime is increasing in many small towns and villages even as it falls in urban areas

Domestic Abuse in Rural Areas
The National Rural Crime Network has last week launched the results of an 18 month intensive research project on domestic abuse in rural areas, ‘Captive and Controlled’.  It revealed a disturbing picture of domestic abuse in rural Britain with hidden victims – isolated, unsupported and unprotected. 

Families trapped in poverty in Rural Britain
Channel 4 has produced a ten-minute news piece on poverty in rural Britain as part of its Breadline Britain series.
The video emphasises that while the countryside is often idyllic looking, severe areas of poverty also exist which often pass unnoticed. In particular, ‘in-work’ poverty is prevalent and several interviewees said that they feel they are simply to working to survive.

Rural Surgery pioneers social prescribing
ITV covers the story of a rural medical centre in Lancashire that aims to turn patients away from pills and towards pastimes like dominoes, draughts and dancing.  Social prescribing involves helping patients improve their health and wellbeing by encouraging them to try out activities which may benefit them - outside of traditional NHS treatments.

RSN provide a range of opportunities for colleagues to come together to discuss issues affecting rural health. Member organisations are welcome to attend these events for free.
Click the links below for more info:

Rural Health and Social Care Meeting 
This takes place in London twice a year.
The next meeting open to members, takes place on 2nd December 2019, watch this space for more info!

Rural Health and Wellbeing Seminar 
Our regional seminar programme of 7 events includes one on Rural Health and Wellbeing in July. It was kindly hosted by West Suffolk Council and took place in late July.  Open to members of the RSN and RHCA, there were 4 speakers who shared their expert knowledge with delegates.  Kate Pym from Pym’s Consultancy, Sheila Childerhouse, the Chair of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Jonny Haseldine, the Parliamentary Assistant to Anne Marie Morris MP.  
Full details and notes of the meeting are available at this link.

In addition there are upcoming seminars about Rural Health that may be of interest to you.

Organisations that are members of the Rural Health and Care Alliance and the Sparse and Rural Assembly organisations can attend these seminars free of charge.

On Tuesday 24th September, Nailsea, North Somerset – the seminar focuses on the place based context for rural health and well-being.  We have three key speakers covering a local community approach to wellbeing through a hub approach, the highly successful Village Agent scheme in Somerset and a Herefordshire led approach to tackling the shortage of rural G.P.s.
To book a place please email Ivan Annibal at: 

Details of the full seminar programme (which includes three additional seminars to what is detailed above) can be found here

A (not so) green and pleasant land  - what more can be done to tackle fly tipping?
While the vast majority of householders dispose of their waste responsibly, very sadly a minority do not. In 2017-2018 Local Authorities in England responded to just under 1 million (998,000) fly-tipping incidents; a slight decrease of 1% from the 1,011,000 reported in 2016-2017.
Two-thirds (66%) of fly-tips involve household waste. In January 2019 new financial penalties came into force meaning any householder failing to pass their waste to a licensed carrier, and whose waste is then found to be fly-tipped, could face a fine of up to £400. Government also issued guidance to Local Authorities about how to use these new powers.
What is fly-tipping, what are the costs of dealing with incidents of illegally deposited waste, and what more can be done to prevent the countryside from becoming a dumping ground?
Jessica Sellick investigates.

The RSN's Observatory is the place to discover the statistics behind key issues facing rural communities in England, issues that the RSN is striving to highlight and tackle through its work. The Observatory is additionally a great place to understand the numbers that define the communities within our membership through an expanding group of analyses, with this body of work soon to be given its own area on the RSN website called Member Insights.
It also includes statistics on Housing, Health & Wellbeing, the Economy, the Environment and Travel and Transport.

Women in rural areas most at risk of Lyme disease, Express and Star
Older women living in more well-off rural areas are among the most at risk of contracting Lyme disease, a study has found.  Researchers analysed the data of more than 2,000 hospital patients and found people aged between 61 and 65, as well as children aged six to 10, were more likely to be diagnosed with the tick-borne condition.

Barbara Windsor dementia plea, Express
BARBARA Windsor’s husband branded dementia “the disease of punishment” as he urged politicians to fix Britain’s broken social care system. Scott Mitchell, 56, said families face crippling care costs of around £100,000. He warned it makes a dementia diagnosis even more “painful” for families, with many patients also left stranded in hospital due to a lack of community care. The Alzheimer’s Society said the health and social care system is “in disarray” and “completely unprepared to support the growing numbers of people receiving a dementia diagnosis”.

What I’ve learned as a nurse watching people die in remote rural Scotland, The Guardian
There are very few experiences as unique, sobering and intimate for a nurse as entering a stranger’s house in the middle of the night and watching them die.
There’s no hospice provision where I’m based in rural north Scotland. For those diagnosed with progressive, incurable illnesses such as cancer or heart failure, a health professional will offer them a preferred place of death. It’s a stark choice: a bed in the local community hospital (if available) or die at home.

Rothbury Hospital inpatient beds to be reinstated, BBC News
The future of a Northumberland community hospital has been secured, almost three years after plans to axe its in-patient beds were announced.  Health bosses said the 12 beds at Rothbury Hospital were underused and voted to close them in September 2016.  But after pressure from campaigners, the decision was referred to the government and a review commissioned.  It has now been agreed the beds will be reinstated under a "flexible" system of clinical need and demand.

Community Lincs is one of our RHCA members.  Their vision is to create a Lincolnshire where people are connected, communities thrive and opportunities exist for all.
They have offered vital services across Lincolnshire for over 90 years and have always maintained a clear and steady focus on the needs of Lincolnshire people. As community experts, they pride themselves on being a listening organisation, directly responding to their communities’ needs. They harness the wealth of skills and experience and they have developed over this time and work closely with people, communities, their local authority partners, statutory groups and funders to offer high-quality and needs-led services.
They work with people, giving them the skills, resources, connections and confidence to help them deliver a better future for themselves, the people they care about and the communities they live in. 

Pym’s Consultancy presented at our recent Health Seminar and are also part of the RHCA.  They were established in 2014 to support small businesses and entrepreneurs enter health and care markets in the UK and overseas, increase sales and expand their market presence.  They work closely with a number of UK universities, spin-out companies and key influencers across the UK, providing advice, support, mentorship and interim placements for new and established companies, helping decision-making to Board level.

National Directory of Rural Support Groups

YANA, which provides confidential support, mental health awareness and funding for counselling and Mental Health First Aid Courses for those in farming and rural industries across Norfolk, Suffolk and Worcestershire, is frequently asked if there are similar organisations in other parts of the country.
After much research, YANA compiled and funded a National Directory of the many regional support groups and key national charities which can specifically help those in our rural communities.   In the last year, since launch, the directory has been widely distributed to relevant businesses, charities, agricultural colleges, police forces, NFU, Land Agents, CLA, rural churches and many organisations across the UK so that contact details of the network of groups is readily available.  The Directory also provides advice on how to recognise symptoms of stress and depression and how best to help a client, colleague, friend or family
Jo Hoey from YANA (You Are Not Alone) explained that there was no cost for copies of the directory as the charity had received sizable donations following the tragic death of a Norfolk farmer.  ‘We wanted to make good use of the income and do something tangible in his memory and this year, YANA received a generous grant from The Prince’s Countryside Fund for further updates and reprints.   We hope that this directory will mean that many more people will be aware of the help that is available, how to access it and, importantly, how to be supportive to others.’ 
We believe the Directory demonstrates the huge benefits of similar charities working together to provide a real network throughout the UK.    We want those facing difficulties in rural life to truly understand that ‘You Are Not Alone’ – good support is available’.
The Directory is available online at
Or for hard copies of the directory please email:

What is the Rural Services Network?

RSN is a membership organisation and the national champion for rural services, ensuring that people in rural areas have a strong voice. We are fighting for a fair deal for rural communities to maintain their social and economic viability for the benefit of the nation as a whole.
Our membership includes over 120 Local Authorities and over 170 rural service provider organisations.

What is the Rural Health and Care Alliance? 

The Rural Health & Care Alliance is a membership organisation dedicated to providing news, information, innovation and best practice to those delivering and interested in rural health and care.

It has been established through a partnership between the National Centre for Rural Health and Care and the Rural Services Network (RSN) and is affiliated to both the National Centre and the RSN.

Members will be kept informed of the National Centre’s activity and the related activity of the RSN on rural health and care and have the opportunity to influence both organisations’ work.


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