Enhancing rural healthcare

Community nurse on rural road
Susan Thomson

The National Centre for Remote and Rural Health and Care, expected to launch next month, will seek to improve the capability of remote, rural and island Primary Care and enhance the delivery of community-based services.

The Centre will work with NHS Boards virtually and locally to improve rural workforce and retention and develop new and innovative services to deliver better results for patients. It will look at innovative ways to upskill staff to help ensure people receive care as close to home as possible. 

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) will lead work to establish the Centre with an initial focus on the provision of Primary Care. The Centre will be supported by funding of £3 million from 2023-26.

Announcing the plans, as part of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government (PfG), Health Secretary Michael Matheson said:

“Rural and island communities have their own unique challenges when it comes to providing high quality healthcare. It is therefore essential that we do everything we can to make sure that these challenges are properly considered and addressed. Establishing this Centre is a significant undertaking and will help us ensure that people living in rural communities can receive the care they need close to home.

“I expect the centre to start by identifying approaches to improve rural primary care staff recruitment and develop the skills of remote and rural staff. We hope these measures will increase capacity to deliver care close to home for patients and ensure healthcare inequalities some rural communities currently face are significantly reduced.”

NES Chief Executive Professor Karen Reid said:

“The National Centre will support delivery of improved care for remote, rural and island communities. It will reduce health and wellbeing inequalities through focused work to improve the sustainability, capacity, and capability of the remote, rural and island primary care and community-based healthcare workforce and the vital services they deliver to people living in these communities across Scotland.”

Further information and news on the National Centre for Remote and Rural Health and Care will be added to the NES information hub site shortly.

More info about NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care within the PfG can be found here