United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) has partnered with Lincolnshire Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) to work towards creating a national centre for rural health and care.
David Rossington, from LEAP, a body which pursues economic development initiatives, said: “This is a big and exciting initiative.
“Lincolnshire is not only one of the biggest rural areas in England, it also has one of the largest and most dispersed rural populations.”
ULHT says rural areas suffer in terms of recruitment as new staff can choose to work for bigger hospitals. It has vacancies for 318 nurses, 38 consultants and 92 for other grades of doctor.
The centre will aim to help overcome staffing challenges by promoting the benefits of working in rural hospitals.
ULHT and LEAP have commissioned research led by Rose Regeneration, an economic development business which works with communities and businesses, as part of this process.
Chief executive of ULHT Jan Sobieraj said: “Lincolnshire has the potential to build on its rural assets.
“While there are similar national and international initiatives to tackle workforce issues, particularly in rural areas, there are no well-known centres that bring together a range of disciplines and business opportunities around the provision of rural-based health and care.”
“We are working closely with healthcare providers, local authorities, the Lincoln Institute for Health and businesses to understand what the centre could achieve.”
Mr Rossington said: “We recognise the challenges this centre is seeking to tackle and how rural can be turned into a strength in the recruitment and retention of staff.”