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'Guaranteed jobs' pledge aims to encourage student midwives to head to the Highlands


By Philip Murray

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Midwifery students in the Highlands
Midwifery students in the Highlands

MIDWIFERY services in the Highlands could be set for a boost in staff numbers thanks to a link up between a Scottish university and the local health board.

Registered nurses across Scotland are being offered the chance to apply for a postgraduate course being running by Napier University which will not only see them paid at band level five while in training – but which will also have a guaranteed job waiting for them within NHS Highland upon their graduation.

The move by NHS Highland is sure to spark hopes it can plug midwifery shortages in parts of the region. Just last autumn, Sutherland's senior health manager, Kate Kenmure, said the shortage of midwives was causing "anxiety", while in Caithness there have been long-running concerns that mums-to-be are routinely sent to Inverness to give birth instead of within the county's health facilities.
The issues aren't just confined to NHS Highland. Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin – which is run by NHS Grampian – has been having similar issues that have seen prospective mums in Moray sent to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness to give birth.

The course partnership with Napier University is not the first time NHS Highland has run initiatives designed to encourage medical professionals to head north. It has run numerous high-profile campaigns in the past – both within the UK and in Europe – aimed at encouraging people in numerous fields to relocate to this region.

Related: Sutherland hit by midwife shortage

Related: 'Insult' to Caithness women over maternity unit assurance

The new course, which starts in January, is open to adult nurses registered with the NMC.

NHS Highland said "we are willing to consider applications from nurses elsewhere in Scotland who are willing to relocate to the area during the programme and for two years post qualification".

Isla Barton, director of Midwifery for NHS Highland, said: “Midwifery is one of the most rewarding careers you can have. You can work in the community, hospital or across both settings and we also have a mix of urban or rural areas where you could be based.

“Highland is an amazing place to live and work and there are great opportunities for you to progress your career.

“This is an ideal opportunity if you are looking for a change in direction and a new career path. Feedback from students who have made this change is very positive and I would encourage anyone who is thinking about it to join one of the information sessions being held later in the month.”

The course will be 50 per cent theoretical and 50 per cent practical. It aims to prepare you for practice as an accountable and autonomous midwife with a focus on mastering the knowledge and skills required to provide safe and effective midwifery care to women and their families, the interpersonal and cultural competence required for effective and collaborative working, and developing self-capability in a midwifery leadership context, particularly in relation to quality, safety, and efficacy.

Zoe Steven is in her second year of the course and will graduate in January. She said: “It’s totally different from nursing but I’ve found it to be a very positive learning environment. As a student you follow patients through their whole journey and the staff you work with are so knowledgeable but also open to learning new things, learning from you and also happy to go through a learning experience with you.”

“I haven’t been to Edinburgh at all. I’ve stayed in Highland the entire time. It’s a post graduate course so there is a lot of independent study, so much of which is available online. You do also get to meet your lecturers as they will travel to you. The only time I’ll be in Edinburgh is when I graduate.

“I really would encourage anyone interested in making the move from nursing to midwifery to try it. It’s a whole new world compared to nursing but with the skills you already have it is easy to transfer them to this new role.

“You’re seeing some of the happiest moments in peoples’ lives doing this job; it makes your heart so full. I can’t recommend it enough.”

To learn more about the course, visit the Napier website here, applications close 29 September 2023.

If you’d like to speak to Isla about the opportunities available you can contact her on isla.barton2@nhs.scot.

Three information sessions are also being held to tell people more about the course – dates, times and a link to join are detailed below -


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