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Remote Scottish islands offering generous salaries to new doctors, teachers to tackle staff crisis



Some of the most remote islands in the United Kingdom are giving a hefty salary to new professionals to tackle the recruitment crisis in many rural services.

The Hebridean islands of Uist and Benbecula are offering £150,000 (around $190,000) to attract new doctors to live and work there. Meanwhile, on the Isle of Rùm in Scotland, which has a population of only 40 people, parents are searching for a new school teacher who can teach its five primary pupils and two nursery children for £68,000 (around $86,000). 

For the residents, these vacancies are more than jobs. It is about bringing new people to live and work at the heart of Scotland’s island communities.

“We always look at who is coming, the person and their family,” Gordon Jamieson, chief executive of NHS Western Isles, told BBC. “We’re looking at opportunities for partners, not just the successful person. It is not everybody’s choice to come and stay in a remote island community.”

For healthcare professionals, when you choose a place like Uist and Benbecula, it is remote in terms of the job,” he added.

The NHS Western Isles is looking for doctors with a “sense of adventure and passion for rural medicine” and offering 40 per cent more than the usual salary. They would serve the group of six islands in the Outer Hebrides, with a total population of around 4,700 people. The job also offers a chance to work in UK’s one of the “most beautiful and idyllic” locations, the health board stated. 

Moreover, the successful candidate will receive relocation expenses to help move to the islands and a “golden hello” payment of up to £10,000 (around $12,000).

Jamieson said, “It’s got to be a certain type of person who wants that job and responsibility. So obviously we want to reward them. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But there are people out there from all over the world who are looking for an experience like this in remote healthcare.”

Consultants, general practitioners, and nurses are all under pressure as there’s a “wide range of challenges” in the region over rural recruitment. However, Jamieson believes that the salary and the picturesque island are an incentive to live and stay there.

He said, “We want a sustainable service and we want people to live in the community for a long time.” 

The council has received some interest in the role, but the hiring process is still ongoing. The recruitment challenges differ based on the school location, as some posts are attracting more interest than others, the council said. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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