By: 21 February 2023
Aim High, Aim Highland: Recruitment milestone reached for new NHS Highland treatment centre

A key milestone has been reached for the new state-of-the-art National Treatment Centre-Highland, with 80% of roles now filled in preparation for the fast-approaching opening. 

With less than three months remaining until patients will be welcomed to the new specialist treatment centre for ophthalmology and orthopaedic services at Inverness Campus, NHS Highland is working to fill the few remaining job roles available. 

As part of NHS Highland’s Clinical Phasing Model and Training Transition Plan for the NTC, the process of transferring NHS Highland’s entire eye care service, including surgical and outpatient facilities from Raigmore Hospital to the purpose-built treatment centre is well underway. 

The NTC will also be home to orthopaedic services, delivering a range of elective orthopaedic care including uncomplicated hip and knee replacements and foot, ankle and hand surgeries, helping to reduce waiting times for patients across the Highlands and beyond. 

All National Treatment Centre Highland contracted staff have started the process of re-alignment to the NTC, part of the orientation programme to ensure the successful conclusion of the transition and mobilisation phase of the programme.  

At Raigmore, the ophthalmology outpatient service will reduce its capacity in the weeks leading up to the move in April, to allow staff the time to set up and prepare the department. Equipment that needs to move involving eHealth and Medical Physics will be de-commissioned then re-commissioned on the new site. Certain clinics and emergency services will continue to be delivered on site at Raigmore, to ensure ophthalmology patients continue to receive the best possible service and care. 

In response to ongoing recruitment challenges over the past year, particularly with nursing roles, NHS Highland launched their ‘Aim High, Aim Highland’ campaign to promote the work-life balance opportunities that exist in the Highlands, whilst emphasising the career fulfilment and job satisfaction available. Reaffirming the exciting prospect of a fulfilling life in the Scottish Highlands, the campaign has played a key part in filling roles as the health authority worked to fill 208 new jobs that were created with the instillation of the NTC-H.  

Attractive career progression packages combined with opportunities for a balanced and stimulating life out of the workplace have so far seen NHS Highland fill 165 roles and hit the 80% recruitment milestone. Currently recruiting for band 2 and 3 soft facilities posts including catering, porter and security staff roles, NHS Highland is calling out for ambitious applicants who are interested in the possibility of progressing a career within the NHS.  

Deborah Jones, director of strategic commissioning, planning and performance at NHS Highland, said: “Reaching 80% of our recruitment target is a key milestone for us as we get closer to the official opening of the new NTC-H, and we are now looking to fill our final round of vacancies for band 2 and 3 soft facilities, as well as Band 5 ophthalmology theatre roles.  

“There is huge opportunity for progression within these roles, as working within some of the country’s most remote and rural environments offers a unique challenge for health and care professionals wanting to work at the top of their license. 

“Xue Min is a great example of this, having begun her career with us in the Catering Department and now progressed to a theatre role. Band 2 roles have also recently seen a pay increase, with competitive salaries with equivalent jobs in other sectors, as well as an attractive benefits package and exceptional career progression. Support and flexible working opportunities are also available for those raising families.” 

In addition to soft facilities roles, final positions remain available for Band 5 Ophthalmology Theatre Nurses and will shortly be released for Optometrists, Orthoptists, and Admin staff.   

Xue Min began her career in an entry level role with NHS Highland as a Catering Assistant and is now working in theatre. She said: ““When I joined catering, I knew I wanted to progress further within the NHS and knew there were many opportunities. I am new to my role and had no experience within theatre so while looking forward to the new challenge, I was initially apprehensive. It’s been such a great learning journey and my colleagues are very supportive of me and teach with a lot of guidance and understanding.   

 “For those considering a career within the NHS, don’t be scared to ask. Be yourself, ask questions and don’t limit yourself. I came from catering and now I’m in the theatres, don’t be scared of change and come to the Highlands.” 

NHS Highland currently employs 10,500 staff, with a catchment area that covers some of the most remote and rural parts of Scotland, and is connected by excellent road, rail and air links including direct flights from Inverness to Amsterdam, London, Manchester, and Birmingham. 

Image: Michael Riach and Colin McNair