Appoint a commissioner for rural health

Appoint a commissioner for rural health

Australia appointed its first commissioner for rural health in 2017 and this role has greatly strengthened the visibility of Australian rural health to policymakers. Scotland should follow the lead of Australia. A commissioner should not have any legislative power but should have access to every level of government policymaking to ensure that the health of our rural populations is taken into consideration.


A Commissioner for Rural Health is required, as is a Commissioner for Disability who will understand remote rural living. The main problem is that most decision makers live in urban areas and have no idea what remote rural living is like, or how it works so differently from urban areas.

Policy choices can have unintended or unknown consequences for legislators and civil servants without experience or knowledge of remote and rural issues. A commissioner for rural health can advocate, advise and provide this expertise in a similar role to the children's commissioner

Rural healthcare would benefit from leadership at a national level to aid collaboration and co-ordination across domains such as education/training, community hospitals, recruitment & retention and involving communities in policy development - as well as rural-proofing policy changes to ensure that national clinical strategycan be achieved and be relevantin rural communities. There is so much talent that could be brought together effectively to address the challenges in delivering rural healthcare in Scotland, but there is a need for leadership to bring these together, which a rural commissioner role could do. Here's a discussion we had about this at the Committee in 2016:

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