Scottish/Irish learning fellowship

New exchange programme launches in Dublin.

The Health Secretary and Irish Health Minister are announcing the launch of a Joint Learning Fellowship programme for an initial period of two years from January 2020.

The initiative will offer two three-month placements for Scottish and Irish senior policymakers or health service workers so they can learn more about what works in each system.

Jeane Freeman and Simon Harris are meeting in Dublin to mark the first anniversary of an existing learning exchange programme between Scottish and Irish health service workers to improve work on public health, patient safety and use of technology.

Addressing the Future Health – Opportunities for Collaboration symposium, Ms Freeman will say the initiative has gone from strength to strength and is a clear example of cooperation. The Health Secretary will also reiterate the Scottish Government’s serious concerns about the impact of Brexit on staffing in the health and social care sector. 

Ms Freeman said:

“Scotland and Ireland share a longstanding history, strengthened by trade and cultural links. The Scottish/Irish bilateral relationship today is as close as it has ever been and I am delighted to announce the Learning Fellowships. I am sure this exchange will benefit both jurisdictions.

“We collaborate on public policy areas ranging from social services to rural affairs, and in health our relationship is going from strength to strength.

“Of course, while we continue to develop our relationship with Ireland, we are doing so under the shadow of Brexit. With the ending of freedom of movement we know that in health, and in particular social care, we will be severely challenged in terms of our workforce.

“The Scottish Government wishes to make it clear that the efforts of EU staff within the NHS and social care sector are greatly appreciated. We want these workers to stay. Scotland is their home and we want it to continue being so.”


The Scottish Irish Health Collaboration was established following a meeting in Dublin in October 2017 between the First Minister and the Taoiseach. At that meeting, health was identified as an area of particular interest for collaboration and learning and initial discussions began between Scottish and Irish officials in early 2018.

The goals of the Scottish Irish Health Collaboration are to:

· openly communicate information and ideas
· deliberate on design and delivery issues
· collaborate where appropriate opportunities exist

The Collaboration has identified five core workstreams, as follows:

· Public Health and Health Improvement
· Patient Safety
· Data, Digital, Technology and Innovation
· Access, Flow, Value Improvement and Efficiencies
· Service and System Integration


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