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Community / Increased interest in social care posts welcomed

Jo Robinson.

PROMISING news about the level of interest in recent social care worker vacancies has been welcomed.

A meeting of Shetland’s integration joint board (IJB) heard on Thursday that there were 19 people at the preferred candidate stage for posts.

Interim chief IJB officer Jo Robinson said this was a “significant change” compared to what has been experienced previously.

Board member councillor John Fraser said it was “extremely positive” to hear.

Recruiting to posts in Shetland, including social care, has had its challenges resulting in the council recently issuing a warning about this ahead of its 2024/25 budget setting.

Fraser also asked about the number of modern apprentices in health and social care, with Robinson saying there have been 12 going through the process.

She added that the aim was to bring in modern apprentices more frequently.

It comes as the need to take in temporary external staff to fill gaps in service continues to cause cost pressures on health and social in Shetland.

Services under the IJB, which covers NHS Shetland and Shetland Islands Council, are expected to be overspent by around £5.7 million this financial year.

As usual, the primary reason for this is the cost of bringing in locum and agency staff.

Chief financial officer Karl Williamson said a recovery plan is in place to make in-year savings.

The bulk of this, nearly £1 million, relates to where vacancies are kept unfilled where appropriate to do so, which results in savings.

“NHS recruitment takes time, so there’s been gaps in recruitment, there’s been turnover,” Williamson said.

“It’s areas that we’re not needing to take in agency staff – so we’ve deemed it safe enough to run that service with reduced staffing levels.”

But he said this is not something that can be relied on long term.

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