Wales: Views sought on Rural Health Plan

Information below on how to contribute to the Welsh Government’s consultation on the Rural Health Plan:

wag_logo_en> Rural Plan Steering Group

A major new plan to drive forward improvements in healthcare services in rural areas will be published by the Welsh Assembly Government today [Friday, 1 May].  The Rural Health Plan, which is out to consultation, delivers on a commitment in the One Wales document, and aims to address the challenges faced in ensuring people have appropriate healthcare particularly in sparsely populated communities.

The document has been developed by a group under the chairmanship of Lord Elystan Morgan in close consultation with local people, health professionals and other key groups in rural areas. 

The plan includes:

  • The primary care workforce will be re-evaluated so that practitioners could fulfil more than one role for the convenience of the patient
  • Pharmacy networks will be developed by the Assembly Government to support healthcare services and encourage partnerships in the community
  • Community hospitals will need to be modernised with a new purpose, for example possibly as a base for out of hours services and specialist treatment
  • A review of alternative methods of providing emergency and non-emergency transport to ensure that rural patients have adequate access to healthcare whatever their circumstances.

Health Minister Edwina Hart said that the plan outlines how services can be delivered locally for the benefit of patients.
“Wales is extremely fortunate to have such a rich rural landscape but that does pose special challenges in providing effective healthcare for people in rural communities.  “We aim to deliver as many services as possibly locally where they can be provided safely and effectively, but do recognise that for some, especially highly specialised services, patients may need to travel. However, at the moment in rural areas, even for some more routine services, patients still have to travel.”

“By integrating services and utilising fully the skills of all staff that work in the NHS in rural areas, we will be able to improve care for patients and provide more career opportunities for staff.  I am pleased that this document delivers one of our key One Wales commitments, and will help meet people’s health and social care needs. Indeed only yesterday the newly refurbished Breconshire War Memorial Hospital which received £1.9 million of Welsh Assembly Government funding to improve local services.”

“I urge members of the public to read the plan carefully and have their say on the proposals. All comments will be taken into account during the consultation and reflected to ensure we provide better services in rural communities.”

Lord Elystan Morgan said: “Providing easy access to services that people are entitled to within rural areas brings many challenges. For example, a concentrated and increasing ageing population, prevalent in rural communities hinders access, as do transport services and distances travelled. We have developed this consultation paper by looking at the picture of rural communities as a whole, taking into account social and economic factors, to ensure its success within communities.”

The dates and the venues of the three consultation work shops are:

  • North Wales:  Thursday 4 June 2009, 9:30am – 2pm, Venue Cymru
  • West Wales:  Friday 5 June 2009, 9:30am – 2pm, Aberystwyth University
  • South Wales: Friday 12 June 2009, 9:30am – 2pm, Waterton Centre

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