Rural healthcare services are 'in crisis', medical chief warns

BMA chair Dr Iain Kennedy is calling for a medical school in the Highlands to help tackle the workforce shortage.

The Chair of the British Medical Association in Scotland is calling on the government to set up a medical training university in the Highlands to stem what he claims is a crisis in healthcare in the region.

Dr Iain Kennedy said patients in rural areas across Scotland are suffering in comparison to people living in towns and cities due to a lack of access to GPs and services.

He said the government needs to specifically invest in rural parts of the country, and is calling for a medical university to be established in the Highlands to train, and crucially keep, GPs in the region.

He told STV News: “We are absolutely at crisis point.

“We have rural hospitals in some parts of Scotland that will soon have no consultants.

“We have GP practices in the north of Scotland and other remote and rural areas where the GP practice has already fallen over and are wholly staffed by temporary locums.

BMA chair calls for a medical school to be established in the HighlandsiStock

“I think the time has now come that we need a university in the north of Scotland, a medical school in Inverness so that we can train doctors who are much more likely to work in these parts of Scotland where we know there is a medical workforce shortage, so we can supply doctors to Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles, Grampian and the Highlands.”

The health minister said the government is taking measures such as the establishment of a New National Centre for Remote and Rural Health and Care and also financial incentives for medics in training.

Michael Matheson said: “We have increased the number of those who are in training to become GPs this year and we are increasing again next year.

“Alongside that we are also providing an extra £1m this year in bursary funding to support GPs who are in training to go and work in our remote and rural areas with a particular focus on our most remote and rural areas.”

“We are also providing funding to those who will go and work in these areas once they are qualified, through a ‘golden hello’ of £10,000 if they go and work there.”

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