Health chief admits healthcare for rural communities is a 'tricky' issue

Tackling healthcare inequalities while the trend is for centralising services away from rural areas is ‘tricky’, a health chief has admitted.

Tuesday, 18th June 2019, 8:57 pm

The discussion about ensuring rural and disadvantaged communities have the right access came during a meeting of Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing board.

Siobhan Brown, chief operating officer of NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group was setting out how its plan for this year will help to meet the goals of the Northumberland Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

There are four themes in the strategy: Giving children and young people the best start in life, empowering people and communities, tackling some of the wider determinants of health, and adopting a whole system approach to health and care.

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David Thompson, chairman of Healthwatch Northumberland, which represents the views of patients, asked about the balance between access for rural and disadvantaged communities against the rationalisation and centralisation of services which is taking place.

“I can’t deny it’s a tricky one,” said Ms Brown. “It’s a combination of understanding what people need and working with them.”

Mr Thompson responded: “I sometimes think that when strategic decisions are made, they are made with majority in mind and the disadvantaged become more disadvantaged.”