The feature on rural healthcare ('Country strife', pages 20-21, 12 August) provided a welcome contribution to the debate on access and the additional costs of health services in rural areas. But it focused predominantly on GP and hospital-based services. Similar issues pertain to community-based services.
Research undertaken by ourselves with Dr Tony Hindle of Lancaster University for the Northern Ireland Department of Health and Social Services has led to an adjustment to the resource allocation formula in Northern Ireland to compensate health and social services boards for the additional costs of providing community services, as well as ambulance services in rural areas.
A software tool has now been developed that allows health authorities and trusts to calculate the additional costs of providing services in their own areas.
Further research is being undertaken to look at the specific health needs in rural areas and how this might impact on current resource allocation.
Information on this is available from MSA.