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Chief medic calls for focus on rural social care

Social care in rural areas should benefit from directed resources to manage the UK’s ageing population, the Chief Medical Officer has said in a new report.

Health in an ageing society urges social care, central and local government, as well as the NHS, to start planning more systematically for the future needs of an ageing population and to concentrate the provision of health and social care in rural areas.

The annual report by the CMO finds that rural areas are underserved in health and care and have well-documented problems accessing primary and secondary healthcare services, as well as medicines.

Currently, around a quarter of all people aged 65 and over live in rural areas and the age gap between rural and urban areas is widening: In 2020, the average age across all rural areas was 45.1 years compared to 39.4 in urban areas – a gap of 5.7 years, compared to 3.4 years in 2002.

The report predicts that areas such as Scarborough, North Norfolk or the south coast are going to age rapidly and predictably. CMO Prof. Chris Whitty said: “Providing services and environments suitable for older adults in these areas is an absolute priority if we wish to maximise the period all older citizens have in independence.”

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