Marketing experts are being drafted in to attract senior health professionals to Shetland and address its longstanding overspend on locums.
Brian Chittick, chief officer of Shetland’s integration joint board, gave an update at today’s meeting on a possible new approach to recruitment.
He said meetings had already been held with Promote Shetland with the hope of enticing professionals through the benefits of living and working in the isles.
Rather than paper adverts in medical journals, Mr Chittick suggested using digital platforms to emulate Promote Shetland’s work in attracting people to relocate.
Mr Chittick’s comments were made in response to questions about how Shetland could reduce its ongoing overspend on locums and agency staff.
Chief financial office Karl Williamson told the board its financial position was “unsustainable” and on course for a £15m deficit in the next five years, even by the most favourable assessment.
Addressing the current financial year, Mr Williamson said high spending on locums, including in psychiatry, general practice and hospital consultants was the chief cause of the £611,000 overspend.
He said a one off payment from NHS Shetland would cover the overspend.
“Although we will reach a break even position, it’s important to stress that we are not in a sustainable financial position,” he added.
Mr Williamson said the board needed to focus on the longer term and how to close the funding gap.
Councillor Robbie McGregor noted the ongoing difficulties with locums, which he said had almost become a “fixed cost”, and suggested setting money aside in the annual budget.
Vice chairwoman Natasha Cornick said the IJB “almost had to square the circle” when it came to locum costs and asked what else could be done.
Mr Chittick noted successes in recruiting through a “rediscover the joy of general practice” scheme , which offers flexible working patterns.
He suggested exploring the achievements of that programme to use across other areas of the health service as well as bring rotational working to some departments.
Mr Chittick said the current timing, after a year of the pandemic, when many health workers may be seeking a change of scene, was a good time to start recruiting to Shetland.
Mr McGregor welcomed the suggestion, saying many professionals would see Shetland as an attractive proposition.