Archive | Dewar2012

New research: rural recruitment & retention

rural-4In January this year, I was contacted by Pauline von Zabeltitz, a final year student at the University of Aberdeen, who was studying for an MA (Hons) in Economics and International Relations.

For her dissertation, she was keen to explore the various projects and initiatives being used to improve recruitment and retention to rural GP practice in Scotland.

Pauline has very kindly agreed to having her dissertation published on in order to share the analysis that she has undertaken over the last six months.  Her report provides yet more substance behind some of the core issues that we know affects rural recruitment & retention, whilst providing another perspective and some new ideas to add to the present work on this area.

Coming from a family with a strong medical background, healthcare related issues have always been of great interest to me and throughout my degree, I got the chance to explore this topic further through a Health Economics course. Discussing Health Economic issues and policies led me eventually to my final Dissertation topic, writing about the recruitment and retention issues in rural Scotland regarding healthcare providers such as GPs.

Specific issues highlighted include rural connectivity, access to undergraduate placements and the GP Rural Fellowship scheme.  She manages to cover a wide spectrum of other considerations, and some evaluation of present approaches to this problem.

You can download her report by clicking on the button below.

An analysis of current initiatives targeting the recruitment and retention of GPs to remote and rural Scotland [1.4 MB]


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Inside the rural NHS: Steve McCabe


Portree, Isle of Skye

This podcast interview from Bateman Broadcasting was published just last week, and I think gives a real insight into the present challenges and highlights of working as a GP on the Isle of Skye.

Dr Steve McCabe, of the Portree practice, gives his views on what needs to happen to make rural practice more attractive and sustainable.

A recommended listen!


Photo by Jack Torcello, Creative Commons
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TV alert: Dr MacLeod of North Uist (tonight)

videoiconNews just in about a TV programme tonight on BBC Alba (with subtitles for those of us not fluent in Gaelic!)…

Dr Alexander MacLeod was the first doctor of the Isle of North Uist, looking after 3,000 people on 16 inhabited islands for more than 40 years. Hailed as the last traditional rural doctor of his kind, Dr MacLeod was also recognised as a visionary who brought healthcare to thousands.

An Dotair Mor, a one hour programme to be broadcast by BBC ALBA, tells the story of how the legendary doctor was appointed under the Highlands and Islands Medical Service in 1932 at a time when there were no vaccines available to prevent deadly diseases on the remote Scottish islands and healthcare was only available to those who could afford it.

The programme An Dotair Mòr will be broadcast on BBC ALBA on Monday 29th December 2014 from 22.00 to 23.00. featured the work of Dr Alex – and subsequently his son John – in October 2013.  You can read the article here.


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‘From Cart to Air Ambulance’


Papers from a conference celebrating 100 years of healthcare in Skye & Lochalsh

Skye & Lochalsh Archive Centre have come up with this fantastic collection of papers which document the history of healthcare in their local area.  Against the backdrop of the 1912 Dewar Report, they have collected an insightful range of anecdotes, figures, stories and analysis of the healthcare situation over the last one hundred years.

Chapters include:

  • Dewar and the Highland Hospitals
  • Highland Medicine before and after Dewar
  • The Gesto Collection: Dr Lachlan Grant and some Predecessors at Edinbane

Even better, is that this resource is available for free download, and the Dewar Group would highly recommend a look.

Congratulations to the Archive Centre for coming up with such an interesting piece of work.

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Dewar 2013 – Outcomes Report

Miles giving his radio interview at the Dewar 2013 Conference.

Miles giving his radio interview at the Dewar 2013 Conference.

A report of the Dewar 2013 conference is now available – highlighting a very broad approach to some very acute problems being faced in rural Scotland.

Written by Dr Jim Douglas of Fort William, the report covers the many areas explored during plenaries and breakouts that took place during the conference, which was held in Fort William in April this year.

You can download the report here.




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New approaches to rural practice in Scotland

skye (1)Dr Jim Douglas, GP Fort William and chair of the 2012 Dewar Group, has produced the following documents (with colleagues) to help define current challenges in rural practice, and suggest ways of addressing them.

A proposal for ‘National Park Status for Remote Health and Social Care in Scotland‘ outlines why viewing sustainable rural health care as a fragile ecosystem, can help to define the interdependencies that can exist in rural communities – and how shared values and objectives might be achieved more easily by viewing rural healthcare in this way.

An appendix to this document has also been produced, called ‘Wildlife Species in Scotland and Remote Care Policy – What can we debate?‘ – and offers fresh, slightly humorous but relevant comparisons between aspects of rural healthcare and threatened species.

A third document entitled ‘Bench Testing and Risk Management of Remote Practice Models‘ offers advice on how new models of healthcare might be tested prior to implementation.  A number of clinical scenarios are suggested, which can then be played in different scenarios – taking into account weather, transport, and local resource.

jimMore information can be obtained – and feedback provided – to Dr Douglas using contact details provided in the document.



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Dewar 2013: What have we learned?

Dr Annie Tindley introducing the conference

Dr Annie Tindley introducing the conference

In April this year, the Dewar 2013 conference was held in Fort William.

The day stimulated much debate and discussion, and the full conference can be viewed by webstream here.

Dr Annie Tindley, Senior Lecturer in History and member of the Dewar Group has put together the following slides which – very helpfully – sum up some of the discussion that took place.


[powerpoint 650 500] [powerpoint 650 500]



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Recruitment & Retention – some ideas

At the recent Dewar 2013 conference, held in Fort William, the issue of recruitment and retention in rural areas was a hot topic of discussion.

One of the presentations was given by David Hogg – GP on the Isle of Arran, and Editor of this  This video has been taken from the webcast, and outlines some ideas on how to improve the current situation.

Comments welcome, either to David (by using the contact form on this website) or in the comments section below.



You can also view the videos linked from this presentation:

Arran Salaried GP Post (filled)

Arran Rural GP Fellowship (recruiting at time of post)




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Dewar 2013 Webcasts now available

The webcast footage from the Dewar 2013 conference, held on Friday 19th April, is now available.

videoiconThe idea to webcast the conference was a bit of an experiment by the Dewar Group, but we were delighted to learn that over forty people viewed live on Friday, and there has been a lot of interest across Scotland (and beyond) in being able to access the footage after the conference too.

The webcasts are split into four sections, and record all the events held in the main auditorium.  You can access the webcasts here.

We are very interested to know your thoughts on the webcast, and get an idea of who has been accessing it.  Please feel free to get in touch using the contact form here.

There was plenty tweeting on the day too.  Dr Miles Mack has archived this too, which you can find at this Storify page.

One of the workshops

One of the workshops




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Success at Dewar 2013 Conference

On Friday 19th April, over fifty people attended the Dewar 2013 conference, held at the Kilmallie Free Church Community Centre in Fort William.  Another forty four people attended by webcast – an experiment for this conference, but one that we think went very well.  The day was widely covered on Twitter too, with the intention of engaging a wider audience and making remote participation possible.


The day saw a wide range of presentations and discussion about the future of rural areas in Scotland – with some focus on health care, but also the wider infrastructure and recruitment & retention to rural areas.   Between excellent shortbread and sandwiches, a vibrant range of workshops and plenaries looked at many angles of rural health care.

Miles giving his radio interview.

Miles giving his radio interview.

The morning kicked off early with the BBC Radio Scotland ‘Out of Doors’ presenter Euan McIlwraith interviewing some of the folks from the current Dewar Committee.  The programme was broadcast yesterday, and is available on BBC iPlayer for the next week.  We think it covers a lot of the conference topics effectively, and especially as the interviews are with ‘grass-roots’ GPs who can speak from much experience.

You can listen to the programme on BBC iPlayer until 26th April.  Scroll to 6min 30s for the feature on Dewar.


Annie Tindley introducing the conference

Annie Tindley introducing the conference

The day was then led very admirably by historian Annie Tindley, with a rapid introduction to the background behind Dewar 2013, including the need (and ease) of looking at Dewar’s original recommendations from 1912 into today’s context.  Why is it easy? Because a lot of the topics raised then, are just as pertinent now.  The benefits of having such wide-ranging input into the day – from our historical experts, to leads on political intervention, community infrastructure, local authority, education and healthcare – were evident.  In terms of looking at challenges to rural health care, we’re in this together and we need to find a multi-agency partnered approach to deal with many of the common issues.


So the day followed the programme as planned, involving participants as much as possible.  We heard from local Applecross resident Alison MacLeod, about their search for a new GP, informed views from the past, including former GP Dr Roddy MacLeod, the issues involved in maintaining emergency responses across rural areas, and a vibrant session with RRHEAL on supporting the continued professional development of staff in rural areas.

Hungry from the stimulating debates that resulted, we were treated to an excellent lunch by the ladies of the Kilmallie Free Church Community Hall, with some also able to enjoy a walk and enjoy the fantastic views of Loch Linnhe.  We were reminded that it’s not always like this in Fort William!


The afternoon session saw further involved debate and participation on issues such as First Responder schemes, rural GP recruitment & retention, and promoting effective working between communities and government.

One of the workshops

One of the workshops in full swing (Annie is keeping an eye on tweets there too!)

And then we all came back together, to sum up, make plans and allow further observations from everyone present  (including webcasting/tweeting).

Access to the webcast

The webcast part of the conference was an experiment, and one which seems to have worked rather well.  Over 40 people were able to join us, and participate using twitter and email.  There is no doubt that this opened up the conference to folks who find it impossible to make the one or two day trip away to attend conferences, even in semi-rural areas like Fort William.  We’d like to thank David Eglinton of HCVF Television, who did a great job with limited broadband in providing a continuous webcast.  In the next week, we aim to get the clips up here on so that you can view the full conference over the web.

What’s next?

The conference has generated many ideas and much enthusiasm for driving forward the issues that are clearly important to improve the prospects for Scotland’s rural and remote communities – both in terms of health and also other infrastructure.  It is clear that folk left the conference with more direction and resolve to ‘get on’ with the job of critical issues, such as recruitment and retention.

Watch this space for updates on opportunities to be involved with this.  Please be welcome to use the ‘comments’ facility on this page to submit your view, or use the hashtag #Dewar2013 on Twitter to tag your comments.

Finally, the Dewar Group would like to thank the Kilmallie Free Church and Community Centre for excellent hosting on the day.  We would enthusiastically recommend the venue to other groups looking to hold conferences in the Fort William area.  In addition, Dr Jim Douglas was instrumental as ‘our man on the ground’ and worked particularly hard to make the day as successful as it was.




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