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Rural Medicine Working Group


In December 2005 the Minister announced that emergency and major elective surgery and A&E for the south west would be consolidated at the Erne site in Enniskillen. In announcing the new service model for hospital services in the south west the Minister recognised the difficulties in providing hospital services to all rural communities.  In light of this, the Minister asked the Chief Medical Officer to review how general medicine can best be provided to all rural communities in Northern Ireland to achieve an appropriate balance between accessibility and safe, high quality practice.
The Rural Medicine Working Group has been meeting since April 2006 with the specific remit of developing quality standards for inpatient medical services in rural and local hospital settings.  Two separate projects are being undertaken by this Group to inform the Department. These two projects are considering:
  • The needs of rural populations to access high quality and safe services;
  • How primary and community care services can best support appropriate patient access, management and discharge;
  • Appropriate and effective response to manage emergencies;
  • Recent work, both nationally and internationally, focusing on the provision of local and rural hospital services;
  • Quality and safety issues, including the requirements of clinical governance within the HPSS;•Staffing implications for both those who are trained and trainees, including:
    • Opportunities presented through Review of Public Administration (RPA) and through improvements to training and the development of multi-professional working to support future service provision;
    • Recruitment and retention issues, out-of-hours cover, and the impact of European Working Time Directives (EWTDs); Changing working practices such as the Hospital at Night.
It is anticipated that the group will report in 2007 with standards for inpatient medical services in rural and local hospital settings.

Membership of the Rural Medicine Working Group

The Rural Medicine Working Group is chaired by Dr John Scarpello,Consultant Physician, University Hospital North Staffordshire.
The membership of the Rural Medicine Working Group is drawn from across the health care professions and includes representatives from primary, secondary and community care together with the Health Councils.
In addition to core Working Group, a number of sub groups  (PDF 9 KB) have been set up to take forward key areas of work.

Rural Medicine Meetings to Date

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