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Highland MSP Rhoda Grant's debate in Holyrood places NHS Highland recruitment and retention under the spotlight as health secretary Humza Yousaf acknowledges it is a problem for rural and island communities

By Scott Maclennan

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MSP Rhoda Grant.
MSP Rhoda Grant.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf has acknowledged that health service recruitment and retention is a problem for rural and island communities as the issue was brought back under the spotlight during a members debate at Holyrood.

Responding to the debate led by Labour MSP Rhoda Grant, Mr Yousaf said that these issues were raised with him repeatedly when he recently opened Broadford Hospital on Skye, and Badenoch and Strathspey Hospital in Aviemore.

On another point he committed to exploring the idea of undertaking risk assessments for long journeys to hospital, which primarily concerns women travelling to Raigmore Hospital to give birth.

Mrs Grant sought to focus on healthcare training that can be delivered locally by arguing there is significant proof that training for those already in the Highlands would help address the current staffing crisis here.

She highlighted how NHS Highland is attempting to recruit from all over the world because of staffing issues, with current staff complaining variously of feeling burnt out, with many off sick or are choosing the leave the profession altogether as a result.

She went on to highlight the maternity crisis in Moray and Caithness where, despite clinical, community and political pressure, services continue to be unsatisfactory because of lack of staff.

In her speech she said: “In the Highlands and Islands we have our own wonderful world-renowned university, a new university at the cutting edge of delivering education and research differently.

“People are reluctant to uproot their families to further their careers. Therefore, to grow our own workforce we need to provide that training close to home. Evidence given by NHS Education for Scotland highlighted that midwives are more than likely to remain in the area where they were educated. I’m sure the same goes for other disciplines.”

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