Patients who live in the country are getting a raw deal because rural hospitals are under-funded, research suggests.
A study by think tank The Nuffield Trust says the way the NHS distributes funding is “unclear, unfair and fails to fully compensate remote and rural areas for the extra costs they face”.
As a result, patients in isolated areas are faced to wait longer for treatment, and are far more likely to fall victim to bedblocking, the analysis finds.
The research found that the funding situation has become so precarious that six of England’s smallest and most remote hospital trusts now account for nearly a quarter of the £1bn NHS provider deficit.
And it said funding formulas failed to take proper account of the fact those living in rural areas were likely to be older and sicker than the average population.