Kate Forbes MSP has welcomed a new Scottish Government scheme that will enable registered adult nurses in the Highland and Islands to become fully qualified midwives in 20 months.
Subject to final approval from the Nursing Midwifery Council, the £500,000 pioneering initiative will have its first intake in January 2019 and be run in conjunction with the University of the Highlands and Islands, NHS Highland and NHS Western Isles.
The Scottish Government is funding tuition fees for 20 students, provide bursary support for those currently not in employment – thought to be about £6,500 per student – and, along with the NHS Boards, fund salary costs of existing employees undertaking the training.
It will be open to local nurses, as well as those further afield who wish to study at UHI and then work in the region – something warmly welcomed by Kate Forbes MSP.
The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch said: "This is fantastic news on so many levels. At a time when recruitment for rural areas is challenging, this will train people in the Highlands and then enable them to work there.
"It's also great for aspiring midwives who already live in the Highlands. instead of leaving for training elsewhere, they can stay at home, train and then work near friends and family.
"Lastly, it puts the Highlands on the map as a place to learn and train as UHI is increasingly endeavouring to do."
Kate Forbes MSP added: "I commend the Scottish Government for funding tuition fees for 20 students, providing bursary support for those not in employment and paying salary costs of existing NHS employees.
"This is the kind of ambitious and tangible actions that will mitigate the difficulties of recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals in the Highlands.
"It's great news – too often we just hear the doom and gloom of the challenges, but this shows the other side of the story."