Call for medical school to be created in the Highlands to resolve recruitment challenges
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A MEDICAL school should be set up in the Highlands in a bid to resolve recruitment challenges in the area.
That is the plea made by the Scottish Conservative candidate for Inverness and Nairn, Edward Mountain, who says such a move would create an additional 150 medical training places and could train up to 750 doctors over the next parliament.
He pointed out that last year, the University of the Highlands and Islands lodged plans with the Scottish Government to establish a Highland Medical School but the proposal was put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Mountain believes now is the time to reconsider setting up such a school as the vaccine continues to be rolled out and attentions turn to re-mobilising NHS Highland.
He said: "It is absolutely vital that the next Scottish medical school is located in the Highlands.
"We must not lose sight of the fact that NHS Highland has struggled with recruitment and workforce planning for too long.
"Staff shortages have seen the health board become overly reliant on expensive locums - in 2019-20 alone, NHS Highland spent £18.1 million on locum services.
"That’s not sustainable in the long-term and the establishment of a Highland Medical school will go a long way to attracting aspiring health care professionals to base their careers in our region.
"If we can train and recruit staff for the NHS in the Highlands we are more likely to keep them, meaning our rural communities will get the future medical cover they need."
Mr Mountain added: "The economic impact of the pandemic is serious but a new medical school will create jobs and training opportunities at a time when we most need them.
"If re-elected, I will press the next government to re-open the process for Scotland’s next medical school and I will campaign for it to be based in Inverness."
Meanwhile, Mr Mountain has claimed the success of the vaccine rollout is a reason for Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom.
In Scotland nearly 2, 535,889 people had been vaccinated as of April 3. Across the United Kingdom, the figure was over 31 million. According to Mr Mountain, Scotland could have had 1.5 million fewer vaccines if we were not in the UK scheme. He claims these statistics illustrate "the overwhelming benefits of our four nations working together."
Mr Mountain said: "I commend the heroic efforts of our NHS staff, volunteers and our Armed Forces personnel who have gone above and beyond to deliver this incredible achievement."