Getting the staff to Dr Gray's
IF the hospital is to ever overcome its staffing problems more needs to be done to attract local people to work at Dr Gray's.
That's the view of Miles Briggs, the Shadow Health Secretary, who is currently in Moray on a fact-finding mission.
After being given a tour of the Elgin hospital this morning, the Tory politician said: "How we got about 'rural-proofing' our health service is one the biggest challenges we face.
"It's clear that local people in Moray really value Dr Gray's. They feel a warmth and attachment for it which you don't simply find at many other hospitals.
"It's also a beautiful building – and you certainly don't get the chance to say that about many hospitals these days.
"There are a lot of positive things to say about the place.
"What we need to do now is to all work together to make it easier for people interested in a career in medicine to both study and work near where they live."
Mr Briggs highlighted a scheme being run in the Western Isles by the University of the Highlands and Islands.
At present, 20 of the university's 150 nursing students are based in a satellite school in Stornoway.
He also talked about encouraging nursing schools to, in turn, encourage their students to think about coming to rural hospitals.
However, he added, the staffing problems in the health service are countrywide.
Mr Briggs said: "Across Scotland as a whole there's now a shortage of 2300 nurses. It's also predicted that by 2021 there will be a shortage of 826 GPs.
"I personally believe that things should have been done about this 10 years ago.
"I went to university in Aberdeen and knew a lot of people who were studying medicine there.
"There's only a handful of them who are working in Scotland right now."
Mr Briggs is being shown around the region by its MP Douglas Ross and the MSP Jamie Halcro-Johnston whose constituency includes Moray.
The three have also visited the former Leanchoil Hospital in Forres to hear about possible plans for the building's future.
They are also visiting Maryhill medical centre in Elgin.
In addition they are in Keith to learn about the community's hopes for a new health centre.