Nurses in the Highlands and Islands can now become fully qualified midwives in less than two years, through a new £500,000 pilot scheme, the Scottish government has announced.
The shortened midwifery programme will be available to local registered adult nurses, and to others from further away who wish to study at the University of Highlands and Islands and then work in the region.
“This is an important development to sustain and enhance midwifery care in our island community”
Chris Anne Campbell
The programme, which is being delivered in conjunction with NHS Highland and NHS Western Isles and is subject to Nursing Midwifery Council approval, will start in January 2019 and run for 20 months.
The Scottish government will fund tuition fees for 20 students, provide bursary support for those currently not in employment – about £6,500 per student – and, along with the NHS boards, fund salary costs of existing employees undertaking the training.
The government noted that it would provide £500,000 of funding for the first intake, with funding being reviewed annually.
“We are delighted to be playing a key role in this innovative development”
Scottish health secretary Shona Robison said: “We are taking action to widen access to midwifery and this pilot programme will allow nurses – both living in the Western Isles and Highlands and Islands and those who live elsewhere but wish to work in the region – to become registered midwives faster than the standard courses currently on offer.
“I hope as a result of this, more nurses will consider a career in midwifery where there will be more posts available,” she said.
“Applications are now open and I would encourage those who have considered training to become a midwife in the past but haven’t pursued it to apply,” she added.
Mary Burnside, head of midwifery for NHS Highland, said she welcomed government support for the “exciting” new initiative, which will “open up career options” for nurses committed to working and living in local area.
“NHS Highland values the collaborative working with the University of the Highlands and Islands, which is strengthening access to career opportunities for nurses and midwives at a local level,” she said.
Chris Anne Campbell, nurse director at NHS Western Isles, said: “NHS Western Isles welcomes this exciting new initiative that offers opportunities for qualified nurses to advance their careers further and for newly qualified nurses to complete their midwifery training within 20 months.
“This is an important development to sustain and enhance midwifery care in our island community and we are grateful to UHI and the Scottish government for making this possible,” she said.
Professor Crichton Lang, deputy principal of the university and head of the School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences, said: “We are delighted to be playing a key role in this innovative development, which will strengthen the supply of qualified midwives, enhance career opportunities and help to meet the needs of our local communities.
“The programme will be part of our growing portfolio of teaching and research in in allied health and social care, sport and wellbeing, rural health and biomedical science,” he said.