Medical Training (Highlands and Islands)

Health and Community Care – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 9th December 2004.

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Photo of Rob Gibson Rob Gibson Scottish National Party 2:00 pm, 9th December 2004

To ask the Scottish Executive what input it has to the scheme for training medical personnel in rural areas that is being developed by the UHI Millennium Institute and NHS Western Isles. (S2O-4522)

Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour

We believe in local initiatives and welcome the joint scheme by NHS Western Isles and the UHI Millennium Institute to develop academic courses that are relevant to the particular needs of patients and staff in the Highlands and Islands. When approached, we will be happy to work with them to facilitate the work of the proposed institute of remote and rural medicine.

Photo of Rob Gibson Rob Gibson Scottish National Party

I, too, welcome the development. Does the minister envisage that it will lead to the creation of a faculty of remote and rural medicine, examples of which can be found in the midwestern states of the United States of America? If the Scottish Executive is serious about safeguarding medical services in rural areas, which have particular needs, it is vital that such a body has not only a training role, but an advocacy role.

Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour

Absolutely. A great innovation is being developed in the Western Isles: we are going to develop academic courses that are specific to the needs of remote and rural communities and remote and rural medicine, which is a specialism in its own right. I welcome that. It also allows us to consider how we can exchange information on that specialism with other parts of the world, such as America, which Rob Gibson mentioned, and exchange across continents good ideas about how to develop services in our remote and rural communities.

I am happy to get more involved in the issue. To date, we have not been directly involved, but I am more than happy to discuss the matters with the organisations that are involved. I welcome an innovative idea about how best Scotland can address some of its more difficult health provision issues and can learn about examples of best practice worldwide.