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Rural Areas: Access to Health Care

Volume 663: debated on Tuesday 23 July 2019

3. What steps his Department is taking to ensure the accessibility of health services for rural populations. (912112)

The long-term plan that the Department published in January commits to delivering fully integrated community-based healthcare in primary and community hubs. It confirms that the standard model of delivery will be developed for use in smaller acute hospitals that serve rural populations.

I thank the Minister for his answer, but some rural villages, including some in Devon, have no ambulance service at all—a fact masked by high-level statistical reporting. Will the Government work with me and the National Centre for Rural Health and Care to expose the real rural healthcare deficit, which is so masked, and work with us to rectify the situation and provide the appropriate care and medical support necessary by putting in place a robust and accountable rural health and care strategy and plan?

I know that my hon. Friend has worked with the National Centre for Rural Health and Care and chairs the all-party group on rural health and social care. She is right to mention the fact that there are particular challenges in the delivery of the best-quality healthcare that we want to see in rural areas. I would be delighted to work with her and the all-party group on the matter.

It has now been almost 18 months since health commissioners proposed that the two options for acute medical care in east Kent be put forward for public consultation. My constituents, particularly those in rural areas, are simply fed up with waiting for a new hospital. Will the Minister please confirm for me today just when a full public consultation on the future provision of acute services in east Kent will finally take place?

The hon. Lady asks a good question on behalf of her constituents. I cannot confirm today when that will happen, but I will look into the matter and write to her to make sure that she gets the answer.

One in 10 women have endometriosis. The average wait for diagnosis is seven and a half years and can be even longer in rural areas, and there is currently no test for it. Researchers at the University of Hull previously developed biomarkers for cancer testing and have recently developed a project to test for biomarkers in urine to help to identify endometriosis. They need £10,000 in seed funding to get the project off the ground; will the Minister please meet me to discuss how we can secure the funding?

The hon. Lady has invited me to meet her to discuss that funding. She will be pleased to hear that I will be delighted to do so.