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Scotland looks overseas for rural health lessons


Meeting healthcare challenges in remote and rural communities

Scotland could learn important lessons from Canada and other northern countries, as experts from across the world gather in the Highlands this week to discuss how to deliver healthcare in rural settings.

As part of the first ever Scottish Rural Health Education Week (28-31 March), NHS Education for Scotland (NES), Scottish and international partners will meet to discuss and share solutions to the challenges involved in providing good quality health education and care in remote and rural communities. The week has been organised by the Scottish Rural Health Partnership, whose members include the University of the Highlands and Islands, the University of Aberdeen, NHS Highland and NES.

Dr. William McKerrow, Associate Postgraduate Dean, NES and Partnership Chair, said:

“In Scotland we face similar challenges to our partners in Northern Europe and Canada and we want to collaborate with and learn from key experts to emulate their successes in the field of health education in remote and rural settings. The educational support NES and our partners provide is vital to develop new roles and new ways of delivering health and social care and to address recruitment challenges now, and in the future.”

Three key events will take place, each bringing together partners, leading clinicians and academics.

28 March: Remote and Rural Colloquium, Inverness – a gathering of key individuals from medical schools and academic institutions in Canada, Scotland and Scandinavia to discuss:

  • the role of education in recruitment and retention
  • development of a new Scottish Graduate Entry Medical Programme (ScotGEM)
  • social accountability (how to involve communities in service design)
  • remote and rural medical curriculum 
  • international partnerships

One of the keynote speakers is Dr Roger Strasser, Dean of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) in Canada and a leading academic authority worldwide on healthcare education to support remote and rural communities. He will highlight the successes of the NOSM: curriculum innovations, rural training pathways for rural practice, community engagement and capacity building, increased recruitment and retention rates and socially accountable education.

Dr Strasser said:

“The education, training and retention of future doctors and health care professionals to practice in rural and remote locations is key to supporting improved and sustainable health care in these communities.”

29-30 March: “Making it Work”, Ullapool – a meeting of the EU-funded project, which aims to improve recruitment and retention of public sector staff in northern rural countries. Project partners from Scotland, Sweden, Canada, Iceland and Norway will share and implement solutions to challenges in delivering healthcare in remote communities. This builds on earlier work to address the challenge in remote healthcare of recruiting and retaining GPs and healthcare workers.

31 March: Highland Medical Education Conference, Inverness – this NHS Highland event will bring together medical educationalists from across the North of Scotland and further afield. Professor Crichton Lang, Deputy Principal, University of the Highlands and Islands said:

“We will be working with the Universities of Dundee and St. Andrews to facilitate recruitment and delivery from the Highlands and Islands to the new Scottish Graduate Entry Medical Programme (ScotGEM) as well as supporting development of distributed delivery models. Students will be placed Scotland wide with longitudinal placements in remote and rural communities as a key part of the model. We would hope to have a significant number of them across the Highlands and Islands region.”

Reference: PR2017-005

Further Information From
Mary-Jo O’Brien, Corporate Communications, NES. Tel 0131 656 3213
Susan Symborski-Welsh or Alison Lochhead, University of the Highlands and Islands. Tel. 01463 279 222

Note to Editors
1. NHS Education for Scotland (NES) is a national special health board working to provide education, training and workforce development for those who work in and with NHSScotland. At any time, this means NES is responsible for over 6,500 trainee healthcare professionals and also supports the recruitment of professionals into NES works across all remote, rural and island areas of Scotland helping to coordinate healthcare education development and support education and training for the remote, rural and island workforce

2. The University of the Highlands and Islands is the United Kingdom’s leading integrated university encompassing both further and higher education. Based in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, its distinctive partnership of 13 independent colleges and research institutions is locally based and rooted in communities, but with national and international reach, as part of a regional university structure. Their curriculum portfolio across both further and higher education is designed to meet current and future local and regional needs and to attract other students to the Highlands and Islands to study.