The centre has been established after a range of partners began discussions around how to bring some real focus to the challenges and opportunities in providing health and care in rural settings.

This began with a symposium on rural health and care, held in Lincolnshire in February 2017, which attracted worldwide attention and began the process of establishing the centre.

Initial research to scope the work of the centre demonstrated that there are limited benefits in trying to be too prescriptive about the definition of “rural”. To avoid closing down opportunities for impact we decided to leave participants in the work of the centre to use their own definition of the term as a justification for collaboration.

It became very clear from our analysis, from global to local perspectives, that whilst the context varies there are a number of underpinning themes which are common to the challenges of delivering health and care in rural settings.  These were grouped into four thematic headings:

  • Workforce and learning
  • Intelligence, data and analysis
  • Research
  • Technology


In 2018/19 the centre was established as secretariat for an APPG inquiry into rural health and care, this will report in 2021. In 2019 the centre concluded a formal alliance with the Rural Services Network, and in 2020 established a formal relationship with the NHS confederation. It is currently in negotiations with the national rural health alliance in the USA as the first stage in the development of its International network.  

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