The main aim of this paper was to establish whether and to what extent spatial barriers (such as distance, time and costs) decide about the rural population's access to the medical and welfare services. Analyses were conducted to examine the differences in the availability of such services existing between and within the selected communes. This made it possible to identify the line of division between the centre and the peripheries in local systems. The selected communes were characterized by similar development problems, chiefly in terms of the demographic, settlement and economic structure, and a similar level of development of infrastructure. Simultaneously, each of the chosen communes was characterized - as the conducted analyses have revealed - by a specific and unique spatial system determining to a very large extent the availability of public services. A particularly significant factor determining the rural population's access to these services proved to be the type of settlement dominating in villages forming a given commune, their location in relation to the main roads, their central or peripheral location within the commune, the distance separating them from towns and the organisation of public transportation in terms of frequency and direction of the serviced connections. In other words the classic, concentric arrangement of zones characterised by various degrees of availability of the services in question was often modified by other factors determining the specificity of individual communes.
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