The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Public Health Workforce Week: “We are burnt out but still delivering”

New findings released as part of Public Health Workforce Week reveals that stress, a lack of work-life balance and burn out are amongst the top issues facing public health professionals.

The findings from the Royal Society for Public Health showed that working long hours and a lack of funding were also key factors effecting many health workers. 

Speaking ahead of Public Health Workforce Week, Chair of the of National Centre for Rural Health & Care, Jan Sobieraj said many of these issues are heightened in rural areas:

“With growing rural populations and associated ageing and morbidity, rural communities are often distant to services; their hospitals regularly struggle to recruit to characteristically small teams and experience greater costs by virtue of their size. This means rural communities can receive an inferior service to urban ones.

“Our recently published NHS Long Term Workforce Plan sets out an ambitious programme to train more staff and improve retention together with a range of reforms. However without a specific attention to the distinct needs of rural health and care systems there is a risk that the opportunities set out in the plan do not deliver the scale and pace of improvements needed by rural and coastal communities. 

“Rural primary care, whilst also experiencing significant workforce challenges, plays a unique part in supporting the local health and care system, with development of extended skills, an emphasis on generalist, and multidisciplinary integrated working. This enhanced role can and should be harnessed to support health and care provision in rural communities. Place-based solutions which involve communities in redesigning the workforce to meet their particular local needs should be actively supported by regional and national bodies. Generalist skills, extended practice and competency-based teams will need to be at the heart of approaches across both primary and secondary care.

“The geographical narcissism that has viewed rural clinical practice as inferior to its urban counterparts must be addressed through training, with development of Rural Clinical Schools which recruit from local communities, links to or creation of rural academic campuses, ‘in-reach’ attachments, universal opportunities for rural experience, and potential for additional rural qualifications. Special rural GP training programmes will promote the opportunities as a rewarding career. Widened access into medical professions that consider rural needs will ensure sustainable success.

“Appropriate training facilities and training, support and recompense for tutors are essential. Shared-learning, flexible working practices and peer support including use of comprehensive clinical networks will all be important in retaining health and care professionals in rural areas. Dental access needs particular attention with consideration given to the potential for redistribution of longitudinal integrated training programmes and further development of a multi-professional dental workforce with associated rural training opportunities.

“There is a great opportunity to build these initiatives into the Workforce Plan implementation programme. With careful attention, proper resourcing and full engagement the prospects for those working in rural areas will be positive.”

You can find out more about Public Health Workforce Week here and you can join a Twitter chat with RSPH Chief Executive, William Roberts and our Policy team on Twitter on Wednesday 5 October between 8pm-9pm with the hashtag #PublicHealthWorkforceWeek to join in the discussion.


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