The Academy of Royal Medical Colleges and Faculties of Scotland is concerned at recruitment and retention of healthcare staff outside of the central belt. The Academy’s 2022 report shows how a much higher proportion of consultant appointment panels in NHS Borders, Highland, Shetland and Western Isles were cancelled due to lack or applicants, compared to other regions. The British Medical Association’s Workforce Heat Maps (https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/nhs-delivery-and-workforce/workforce/medical-workforce-heatmaps-for-scotland) highlights how GP vacancies are more than twice as high in the three Island Boards and NHS Highland, Grampian and Borders compared to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Forth Valley. Consultant vacancies in have a clear North-South split; vacancies for boards north of NHS Forth Valley and Fife are almost three times higher than in southern boards. There are several reasons for the reduced number of applicants for new posts and reduced retention of medical staff in remote and rural areas. In itself, the shortage of staff in these areas is an important reason for posts being unpopular. We welcome the Government’s ambition to launch a remote and rural workforce plan in 2024, but encourage this to consider the whole of the NHS workforce.
The whole of the NHS workforce needs to be included in this but there need to be more remote rural centres of excellence (and people from urban areas need to come there to train as well).
*Recruitment* seems to attract greater focus than *retention* in workforce strategy at present. However the 'pipeline model' of recruitment & retention needs to underpin future strategy, as the evidence tells us this works. When students/trainees/potential recruits to rural posts (GPs, nurses, paramedics etc.) see happy, fulfilled professionals this acts as powerful role modelling that results in some of the most effective means of encouraging future health professionals to consider work in rural settings. I see this with my ongoing and previous work in mentoring medical students who have an aspiration to work in rural areas. Here's what I said about this in 2019 to your committee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHaqgfyuZuo&t=11153s
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