Congress demands better healthcare in rural areas

RCN council told to lobby governments to provide better healthcare in rural areas amid ‘unsustainable pressure’

RCN council told to lobby governments to provide better healthcare in rural areas amid ‘unsustainable pressure’

Gwen Vardigans said inequality of healthcare is evident. Picture: John Houlihan

People are dying unnecessarily because of a lack of resources and funding for healthcare in rural areas, nurses told the RCN congress.

They approved a motion urging RCN council to lobby UK governments to provide better  healthcare in rural areas and do more to address shortages of nursing staff and supporting infrastructure.

Gwen Vardigans, whose North Yorkshire branch proposed the motion, said poor broadband access, inadequate public transport, cuts to local health facilities and a lack of registered nurses is creating unsustainable pressure.

Reality of country living

‘Most city dwellers have a romantic view of country living – idyllic cottages, fresh air and healthy living,’ said Ms Vardigans. ‘The reality for rural residents is very different if you or a member of your family requires healthcare.

Jean Fisher: Poverty in rural
county. Picture: John Houlihan

‘In England alone more than 10 million people live in rural areas, and their health should be as important as the 45 million living in our cities and suburbs. Instead, inequality of provision and healthcare are evident.

‘There are pockets of significant poverty and deprivation, substandard older properties and poor health amid dwindling healthcare resources.’

Poverty is rife

Jean Fisher, who represents the voluntary sector as a nurse, said poverty was rife in her rural county, Herefordshire. Ms Fisher recalled one family that had to tear up and burn floorboards to light a fire so as to keep a dying relative warm. In another case, a dying teenager had to share a bed with a sibling because of a lack of beds.

Laura Bird, of the RCN student committee Eastern region, said people were dying in parts of Norfolk because ambulances did not reach them in time.

Ellen Cullen, who joined the NHS in 1949 and said she once cared for people in a workhouse, warned of an upturn in rural poverty. ‘We do not want to go back to the days of the workhouse, when there is no help for people.’

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