Doctors wanted for remote Scottish islands - with $300k salary

Life as a doctor on the remote Outer Hebrides reportedly offers a strong work-life balance.
Life as a doctor on the remote Outer Hebrides reportedly offers a strong work-life balance. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Outer Hebrides Islands off Scotland's west coast are looking for doctors, and are offering a salary of more than $300,000.

There are about 4700 residents spread across the islands, and locals say finding anyone to fill vital community roles around the region is proving to be a challenge.

NHS Western Isles chief executive Gordon Jamieson is leading the global recruitment drive and told RNZ First Up it is a beautiful area.

"The group of islands are off the northwest coast of Scotland in the Atlantic. There's Lewis and Harris, which has the biggest population. Then there is Uist, which is where these doctor opportunities are.

"Then there's a southerly island called the Isle of Barra. So these are remote, rural acute general practitioner jobs. They are, as I say, in a remote island healthcare system. But they offer a fantastic opportunity for any individuals who want to work with a higher level of responsibility, but a great deal of reward in terms of the job and also the package that's on offer."

He said the lifestyle on the islands was "very good indeed".

TARANSAY, UK - 03rd June 2022 - Scenic aeriel drone landscape of Taransay Island from above, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, United Kingdom
Photo credit: Getty Images

"There's the beauty of the landscape, the beaches, the unspoiled scenery. It's a very close-knit community. The communities here are very safe, we really don't have any forms of crime or anything like that. So it's a very safe place to work and live. A very good place to bring up children.

"If you like outdoor activities as well as good challenging work, then the life-work balance here can be very good. Although we're offshore, about 40 miles off the northwest coast of Scotland. We're very well connected to mainland Scotland by both ferry and air."

Jamieson told RNZ First Up there are several ferry routes to connect travellers to the mainland, with the longest trip being about six hours, and the shortest about one hour. It's about a 30 minute flight to Glasgow.

"The plane that travels from the Isle of Barra, it lands and takes off from the beach, so the flights there are tidal and they take about an hour to Glasgow."

The doctor's clinic at Benbecula was independent in the past but is now being run by the National Health Service. About five general practitioners are now being sought to run the clinic.

"They also work in the out of hours emergency care in the evenings and overnight. And they also provide cover for the hospital that's down there that has an emergency room. It has outpatient facilities, it has inpatient beds. They also work in there as well. So they get the general practitioner experience, the emergency out of hours experience and they get also a hospital that they can use to look after patients on the island."

Jamieson said with allowances on top of the £104,000 salary, a successful doctor could be earning about £150,000 ($NZ$311,790).