The Scottish Executive is taking positive action to recruit and retain radiographers and oncologists in the Greater Glasgow NHS Board area, including providing significant extra resources and pursuing a targeted recruitment drive for the Beatson oncology centre. On top of that, the Executive is implementing a range of recruitment and retention initiatives, including various courses and incentive schemes for all national health service staff.
I accept that there is an international dimension to the problem but, as there is a worldwide shortage of oncologists and radiologists, can the minister confirm that there are adequate training places in universities and training centres for the recruitment of new people to those specialties? Does he expect to be able to overcome the shortages in the near future, particularly at the Beatson, where I believe there are six oncology shortages?
I am sure that I speak for
Robert Brown referred to oncologists and particularly clinical oncologists. We know that there is an international problem in that respect. I am pleased that over the past two or three years in Scotland we have increased the number of specialist registrars, who are the health professionals who will become consultants in due course. Robert Brown will have heard Alan Rodger speak with confidence about attracting applicants for some of the clinical oncologist posts that are currently being advertised at the Beatson.
As there is a world shortage of oncologists and as we perhaps cannot compete with salary payments, I suggest to the minister that we might give oncologists an inducement. As the national health service sells off most of its land for building houses, perhaps we could do a deal with the builders, keep some houses and offer lovely homes to go along with the jobs—we have a lovely country. If that is not possible, we might remember that, many years ago, banks gave their staff cheap mortgages. Perhaps we could extend such a scheme to nurses and other members of the NHS. However, lovely houses with jobs for people from abroad would be perfect.
Many factors will help to attract consultants to Glasgow, one of which is the splendid new Beatson that will be built very soon. The £700 million capital investment in the health service in Glasgow will also attract people. I regret that, in all Jean Turner's excursions into the territory, she has not noticed that the sale of land is helping to pay for £700 million of investment in Glasgow's health service.
We are making positive progress on consultants' contracts in Scotland. Jean Turner will know that such progress has not happened in England. If we continue to negotiate in the final stages—which I believe we will do—the Scottish health service will have significant inducements and advantages.