Annex N: Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership
As part of Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership workforce planning, we aim to work closely with further education sectors on our workforce issues.
There is a recognised national problem in recruiting to some specialisms in both health and social care services. We have been experiencing some challenges recruiting to posts for different parts of Aberdeenshire for various reasons. In some cases, there has been less of an attraction in applying for posts situated in our remote and rural areas. Therefore, the Partnership supports the work delivered by our North East of Scotland schools, colleges and universities to attract applicants to the area and increase our workforce capacity and size.
Collaborative work is being delivered between the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University and the North East Scotland College (NESCOL) in designing courses with incentives to attract applicants and students to the North East. They have been reviewing some of their courses - engaging with future school leavers and developing courses which are more relevant to the change in times.
The University of Aberdeen - School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition has shown commitment for many years towards contributing to our workforce demands and enriching employment in our local areas. The School recognises the difficulties in retaining graduates to remain in the north of Scotland and have made significant efforts to curtail this by investing in specialist and graduate courses. They have developed new clinical placements and other opportunities to experience working life as a clinician in more rural areas. They recognise the importance of reducing the chances of producing any further isolation as a profession. They have also taken the 'grow your own' approach; supporting and investing in the current workforce towards becoming more up skilled to help meet the needs of the future. The School supports students on placements in rural areas and undertakes outreach with Schools and colleges to ensure all its graduates understand the differing needs of patients and how health and social care is delivered across Scotland.
Additionally, the School noted that there were difficulties in recruitment of clinical academic staff in both medicine and dentistry and that this was a national issue that is exacerbated by our geographical situation.
At the Institute of Dentistry, funding was received from NHS Scotland to invest in dental technology and specialist dental nurse programmes, to enhance practice.
Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen has taken a strong stance in reaching out to school-aged pupils, not just to promote their courses but also to give them access and support in their decisions should they wish to consider a route into Higher Education. The University is developing a Continuous Professional Development Framework which will allow students to study on a more flexible basis. It will allow them to study on an intermittent basis and at their own pace making it more affordable studying.
In recent years, NESCOL has made stronger links with NHS Grampian to revise standards, offering more practical experience opportunities.
Concerns and Risks:
As mentioned above, there has been active effort and measures put in place to retain school leavers and graduates in the North East. Unfortunately, the Partnership continues to experience problems around workforce capacity due to a shortage of applicants and recruitment challenges.
As the Partnership work towards redesigning our workforce, we must also be mindful that other NHS sectors, our local authority partners and the third, independent and private sectors are all having increasing difficulty in recruiting to their own workforce.
Although it is not a direct responsibility of the Partnership, recruitment of GP's to fill vacancies has been challenging. We do have concerns towards the sustainability of keeping services open such as GP and Dental practices if there is a shortage of school leavers applying to study and graduates to recruit to posts in the North East.
The Partnership is of the view that the suggested amendment to the Universities (Scotland) Act 1966 legislation may exacerbate our already-existing challenges. An increase in centralising such students, graduates and professionals to the central belt may have an adverse impact on the number of applicants applying to study in the North East and adversely affect the number of future qualified clinicians to working life in our rural areas, putting additional pressure on our geographical and workforce challenges.
Iain Ramsay, Partnership Manager (South)
Prepared by Maria Chan
Strategic Development Officer
Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership
26th June 2020