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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-01998: David Stewart (Highlands and Islands)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 17 August 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what support it provides towards educational programmes that encourage pupils in the Highlands and Islands to consider working as a GP in remote and rural areas.

Answered by: Shona Robison 9 September 2016

Scottish Ministers have invested £2.5 million over three years in a GP Recruitment and Retention Fund. The aim of the fund is to support the recruitment, retention and return of GPs in NHS Scotland.

One of the bids, a Scottish Rural Medical Collaborative, is made up of rural health boards from across Scotland: NHS Highland, NHS Grampian, NHS Shetland, NHS Western Isles, NHS Orkney, NHS Dumfries and Galloway and NHS Ayrshire and Arran. These boards have joined together as they share common issues that affect recruitment and retention of GPs in rural areas. As part of their bid they have identified the importance of Career Events in rural schools. The collaborative will promote a national programme to provide resources and to link with educational institutions and local authorities. This will help school pupils decide if they wish to apply to medicine (or another healthcare profession). The collaborative will provide appropriate support in terms on mentoring, work observation and advice for people with rural links in making an application. For initiatives to be successful work will need to be done in partnership with the local authorities, Scottish School of Rural Health and Wellbeing and the academic institutions.

We have also made widening access to medicine a key priority as part of our strategic approach towards achieving a more sustainable medical workforce. Officials are developing proposals for a pre-medical entry programme to assist secondary school students prepare for the requirements of a medical degree, and are in discussion with Scotland’s medical schools on how best to deliver a sustainable programme. A key element will be insight into the requirements and opportunities of community-based practice.