Futures Forum: The value of community hospitals
But under threat, as research from the Nuffield Trust shows:
UNDERFUNDING OF RURAL HOSPITALS
Health think tank The Nuffield Trust has published its review on the impact of rurality on the costs of delivering health care in partnership with the National Centre for Rural Health and Care.
Those trusts which are unavoidably small due to their remoteness generally have high cost pressures, longer waiting times, more delayed transfers of care, higher average unit costs and a worse financial position. Of the seven most remote rural hospitals in England, six are in deficit.
The report emphasises that the cost of providing health care varies significantly across the UK due to a range of factors, such as differences in property and land prices, staff retention rates and population density, amongst others.
The report suggests that the particular challenges faced by remote services include:
- Difficulties in staff recruitment and retention and higher overall staff costs.
- Higher staff travel costs and therefore less productive staff time.
- The scale of fixed costs associated with providing services within, for example, safe staffing level guidelines.
- Difficulties in realising economies of scale while adequately serving sparsely populated areas.
Overall it argues that unless funding is calculated with these differences taken into account, there will be a widening gap in the quality of health services around the country.
→ The Telegraph - Patients living in the country get a raw deal from the NHS, study finds
→ Nuffield Trust - Rural and remote health services lose out on NHS funding
→ Nuffield Trust - Rural health care: A rapid review of the impact of rurality on the costs of delivering health care
The National Centre for Rural Health has joined with the Rural Services Network (RSN) to launch the affiliated Rural Health & Care Alliance - a membership organisation dedicated to providing news, information, innovation and best practice to those delivering and interested in rural health and care across England.
The aim of the Alliance is to keep members informed of the National Centres’ activity and the related activity of the RSN on rural health and care and give them the opportunity to influence both organisations work. For more information about the Rural Health and Care Alliance, please contact Jon Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.