Highlands & Islands

Second bid to recruit GPs to West Lochaber unsuccessful

Image caption Strontian is among the communities that some of the new GPs will cover

A renewed effort to fill seven GP vacancies in a remote part of the Highlands has been unsuccessful.

NHS Highland re-advertised the posts in the sparsely populated area of West Lochaber after a first round of adverts failed to attract enough applicants.

The health board had hoped a new plan for a cluster of local practices would have allayed potential applicants' concerns about having to work alone.

However not enough people have come forward to staff that model of cover.

The GPs are needed to cover places such as Arisaig, Acharacle and Strontian.

There are about 3,200 patients in the West Lochaber area.

NHS Highland said: "Unfortunately, there were insufficient applicants to fully staff the model and we will therefore be meeting to explore next steps in the next few weeks.

"In the meantime the current arrangements will continue."

'Particular lifestyle'

Dr Ian Gartshore, a GP based in Mallaig and Arisaig, said the location would not appeal to everyone.

Speaking before the closing date, he said: "There are a lot of people who cannot live without easy access to the internet and wi-fi at every location, or easy access to a whole range of shopping, coffee shops and all the other leisure opportunities. They just don't exist here.

"People are coming here with a very particular lifestyle that they need to be aware of and a particular way of life that they need to be able to adopt and fit into."

West Lochaber is among remote and rural areas the Scottish government is targeting with £1.5m in funding to help deliver healthcare.

NHS Highland will use the money on projects in the Lochaber area as well as mid Argyll and Islay.

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