In the UK the health and social inequalities experienced by rural communities remain largely hidden by traditional health indicators. These inequalities have been compounded by the economic decline in farming which was accelerated in UK hill farming by the 2001 foot and mouth disease crisis. Despite the widely acknowledged link between poverty and ill health the impact of this economic decline has received little attention.
This first part of this presentation will describe a participatory heath needs assessment of a hill farming community in the Derbyshire Peak District National Park. A social model of health was used as an assessment framework and a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods were employed including a controlled population survey of farmers registered with one general practice (n=500). The findings showed significant psychosocial ill health with farmers having an overall health status that was significantly lower than social classes IV and V and the UK mean.
The second part of this presentation will go on to describe the implementation and evaluation to date of Farm Out, a Primary Care Trust public health programme of interventions to address identified health needs. The initiatives developed include the use of the local agricultural market as a tandem outlet for health provision, the conduct of a photographic public mental health project targeting young farmers and the establishment of a Farming Life Centre to support psychosocial wellbeing.