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Tuesday 2 September 2014
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Healthcare boards "must do more" for rural patients

Patients in rural areas must be provided with better access to healthcare, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland is due to tell a Liberal Democrats' party conference.

Health boards must take up the slack in healthcare provision, redesigning their outreach programmes on the basis of patient need rather than boundaries between professionals, RCN Scotland chair Eileen Frame will say.

An advance of the speech reads: "New technology must be invested in so that people living in remote and rural areas can be treated at home or in their local community rather than having to travel huge distances to be in hospital.

"It is not necessary to see a GP in many cases, so in rural areas – where it can be hard to recruit doctors – nurse-led clinics and services run by highly qualified and skilled advanced nurse practitioners can improve access to healthcare hugely."

Norma Laurenson, a nurse from Shetland also due to speak at the conference, will say: "Technology allowing links between remote hospitals and larger urban hospitals is vital in allowing patients to access healthcare close to home.

"For instance, for some of our A&E cases where we used to have to rely on x-rays or investigative operations, or indeed send patients to Aberdeen, a local CT scanner here in Shetland now allows us to be able to treat patients more quickly and effectively."

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