UHI Shetland - Open the door to your future
Sunday 23 June 2024
 11.4°C   W Moderate Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Health / Recruit locally where possible, councillor tells health and social care partnership

A CALL has been made for people to be employed locally where possible in health and social care as unemployment rises in Shetland.

Councillor Robbie McGregor made the comment at a meeting of the health and social care partnership integration joint board (IJB) on Thursday.

Councillor Robbie McGregor.

“I really think we should be trying to employ local people if at all possible,” he said.

New figures released on Thursday showed that the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance in Shetland as of 11 June stood at 490 – an increase of 200 from a year ago.

It comes as the health and social care partnership ended the 2019/20 financial year with an overspend of £1.95 million against budget.

However, the books were balanced at the end of the year due to additional one-off contributions of £2.734 million from NHS Shetland and £710,000 from Shetland Islands Council.

The unaudited accounts show that temporary locum staff were again proving a high expense against a backdrop of continued difficulty in recruiting to specialist posts in the year, notably in mental health, primary care and unscheduled care.

A consultant mental health locum and their flights and accommodation, for instance, resulted in an additional spend of £453,000.

There was an overspend at health centres where it was not possible to fill vacant posts, although a new initiative called Rediscover the Joy which aims to attract GPs to work in the north of Scotland on short-term contracts has helped to reduce overall locum costs.

The accounts said that Shetland has “low unemployment and the population is ageing at a faster rate than the rest of Scotland”, leading to challenges for recruiting local people to community health and social care roles.

This in turn leads to increased reliance and spend on agency staff, the report said.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


Councillor McGregor said on Thursday that unemployment is unfortunately increasing in Shetland as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief officer Brian Chittick said that efforts are continuing regarding the use of agency staff, highlighting that GPs are trained in Shetland – something which has produced a “really good throughput”.

He said Shetland was coming out of Covid-19 with a “significant impact” on unemployment.

“We should be looking locally wherever we can,” he added.

The accounts also touch on the huge impact Covid-19 has had on the health and social care sector.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that since March 2020 a huge amount of work has been done by health and social care partnerships to respond quickly to changing legislation and guidance to manage the virus,” they said.

“Services across the IJB have had to adapt rapidly and the value of partnership working has never been more evident.

“It is expected during 2020/21 that services will start to return to normal, but social distancing measures will remain and the longer reaching economic impact of the pandemic, while difficult to quantify, will undoubtedly lead to further fiscal pressures.”

There was an efficiency savings target of £2.331 million during the 2019/20 financial year, with £1.427 million achieved.

A warning was also sounded at Thursday’s IJB meeting over the prospect of finding savings in certain services going forward.

McGregor said with issues like Brexit at play he felt it would not be possible to achieve projected savings in pharmacy and prescribing.

“I really am amazed that we think that realistic savings can be made in 2020 and 2021,” he said.

NHS Shetland’s Jo Robinson did say, however, that the pharmacy team believe they can achieve £100,000 in savings this year.

Board chair councillor Emma Macdonald added: “We just have to be sensible. If we can’t find savings there, don’t waste time looking for them.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.