NHS Highland have blamed lack of suitable and affordable accommodation for recruitment problems on the island.
NHS Highland said concerns are growing about meeting the housing needs of key workers as this is hampering efforts to recruit and retain skilled healthcare personnel within the community.
Now health board management are calling on local knowledge for assistance, asking Skye residents to get in touch if anyone is willing to rent property or provide local accommodation solutions.
Specific concerns were brought into sharp focus this week when a recently-appointed highly-qualified midwife to Skye was very close to withdrawing from the post because she struggled to find suitable accommodation for herself and her dog. This was despite her making considerable efforts to find suitable housing and being extremely flexible over the choice of location. Jacqui Bradley, a fulltime midwife currently based in Edinburgh, had been appointed in December and is due to take up her post at the beginning of February.
With the Out of Hours Midwifery Service for Skye and Lochalsh suspended since mid-November because of the lack of qualified midwifery staff, it was crucial to recruitment a full-time midwife to allow for the full 24/7 restoration of the service.
Kate Earnshaw, NHS Highland’s district manager for Skye, Lochalsh and Wester Ross, said: “Happily, a solution has now been found for Jacqui and we are grateful for the help and suggestions we received from local councillors, the local Housing Association and others. However, we remain concerned about the ongoing challenges with a number of other posts we are about to recruit. For instance, we are interviewing for an advanced nurse practitioner next week and accommodation is, again, likely to be an issue.”
She added: “On top of that, we also have a number of other key posts coming up on Skye including: care at home worker posts in the North; an Hotel Services assistant manager post; Supporting Independent Living in the Community (SILC) posts for North Skye; and occupational therapist, social worker and practice nurse positions that we have been unable to recruit to. With other existing staff yet to settle into what accommodation is available, and a staff member recently resigning because of the lack of suitable housing, you can understand why we are keen to find affordable solutions to this issue.”