Rural communities face limited support for dementia

For immediate release

Tuesday 16 May 2017

The Rural Services Network – England's largest partnership of rural service providers – has voiced concern at the impact of cyber-attacks on doctors' surgeries that serve rural communities.

It follows the 'ransomware' cyber-attack which left NHS trusts across the UK without access to IT facilities and patients records.

Rural communities face limited support services for older people experiencing dementia, the Rural Services Network [1] has warned.

The network issued the warning to coincide with Dementia Awareness Week [2], which runs from 14-20 May 2017.

A recent independent study by the Rural England Community Interest Company [3] confirmed that older people form a disproportionate share of the overall rural population, said the network.

This will become more marked over time, since the government's own statistics show that the ageing of the population is due to happen faster in rural than in urban areas, it said.

These are major implications for rural areas and those people who live in them, especially those areas which are popular retirement locations.

RSN chief executive Graham Biggs said: “Dementia services available to rural older people are often more limited and some face an additional concern with physical isolation.

“Rural older people often have access issues in getting to GP surgeries as well as issues with access to post-diagnosis support services and less availability of paid carers.

“A key dilemma is how best to balance demands for specialist services against the need to improve access to more mainstream preventative services.”

Transport difficulties and distant services made it harder to access post-diagnostic services and acted as a barrier to use for patients and their carers, said Mr Biggs.

“It is especially important to provide training for rural healthcare staff to address issues of stigma and to signpost access to those services provided.”

Editors notes:

[1] The Rural Services Network seeks to provide a voice for rural communities by representing rural services, networking between rural service organisations and establishing and broadcasting best practice in rural service provision. It comprises SPARSE Rural, the Rural Assembly, the wider Rural Services Partnership and the RSN Community Group.

The organisation works with Rural England, a stand-alone CIC research group. For details, visit

[2] For more information about Dementia Awareness Week, visit

[3] The Rural England Community Interest Company published the State of Rural Services 2016 report in January 2017. It presents the most recent evidence regarding the provision of services to residents and businesses in rural England. For details, visit

Media contact:

Graham Biggs
Rural Services Network
T: 01588 674 922
M: 07966 790197





Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.