Key Facts on Rural Health

Ageing population

Rural communities are, on average, older than urban areas, and their average age is increasing at a faster rate. England’s most rural areas are projected to have a 47.4% increase in residents aged over 50 years by 2028, compared to a national increase of 35%. The most rural areas are also expected to see the most population increases in the older age bands: 131% increase in people aged 85+ years; 96% in people aged 80-84 years; 71% in 75-79-year-olds; 65% in 65-69-year-olds.

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Source: Rural Evidence Research Centre report: Rural England: Demographic  Change and Projections 1991 – 2028


GPs in sparsely populated villages in England are often the most accessible provider of medicines. In 2010, only 20 per cent of village patients had access to a pharmacy within 4km of their household. This shows that for 80% of village patients, a one-stop GP dispensing service is an essential rural healthcare service.

Source: Commission for Rural Communities report. State of the countryside 2010

Travel issues

Public transport remains a challenge in rural areas and in 2012 only half of rural households were said to have close access to a regular bus service. This compares with 96% of urban households.

In 2012 11% of rural households had no access to a car or van.

The need to make more and longer journeys are also a feature of rural life; during 2008-12, rural people each made an average of 1,002 trips a year, of an average 8.7m per trip, taking an average 378 hours a year. In urban areas, the equivalent figures are: 959 trips, average distance 6.4m, and taking 366h.

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