Prime Minister to be told of Fenland hardship

PUBLISHED: 10:05 04 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:22 02 June 2010

Dr Stuart Burgess

Dr Stuart Burgess

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown is to be made aware of the realities and hardship of living in Fenland and the importance of delivering healthcare more suited to a rural area. A one size fits all approach to healthcare will not work, says the government s r

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown is to be made aware of the realities and hardship of living in Fenland and the importance of delivering healthcare more suited to a rural area.

A 'one size fits all' approach to healthcare will not work, says the government's rural advocate, Dr Stuart Burgess. Dr Burgess has now reported to the Prime Minister following a visit to Fenland in December last year.

The focus of his visit was to listen to the views and experiences of residents, patients, family, staff, voluntary groups and other organisations about the provision and delivery of healthcare.

Speaking about his report, Dr Burgess said: "Rural life can offer great advantages and I have seen many examples of real community spirit and creative solutions to problems. But I have also witnessed people in real hardship and struggling to get by.

"There are over 928,000 rural households living below the official government poverty threshold of £16,492 household income per annum. But because rural disadvantage is scattered it is hidden through the averaging of official statistics and a perception of the countryside as affluent and idyllic."

Dr Burgess is calling for the Government to develop policies that reflect rural disadvantage, targeting people in need rather then places.

He says the biggest issue highlighted on his visits to rural areas is the lack of affordable homes to rent and to buy. Dr Burgess said: "I heard about growing numbers of people not qualifying for social housing, but not earning enough to buy a house either."

There are now nearly 400,000 fewer young people aged 15-29 in rural areas than there were 20 years ago, and the average age of rural people is getting three months older every year. Dr Burgess says this will have a major impact on the future provision of services and government policies.


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