Moray’s biggest hospital has been put forward as a potential centre for rural education to solve repeated staffing crises.
NHS Grampian suffers regular problems trying to attract applicants for vacancies across the region.
A current shortage in junior doctors at Dr Gray’s Hospital will result in children requiring overnight care being taken to Aberdeen or Inverness for treatment from the end of the week.
Now Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has called on the Elgin hospital to become an education base for recent graduates before possibly moving elsewhere for permanent posts.
He said: “Steps need to be taken to identify a solution in the short and long term to ensure the children’s ward, and Dr Gray’s as a whole, has the staff it needs to serve our communities. The staff do a fantastic job under a huge amount of pressure and it’s vital that NHS Education and NHS Grampian find solutions to these ongoing staffing challenges.
“The situation is caused by there being more vacancies than there are doctors to fill them. This is a challenge across the country, despite Scotland having the highest number of doctors working in the NHS compared to recent years.”
Yesterday the MSP also offered an invite to the Scottish Government’s health secretary, Shona Robison, to visit Dr Gray’s to see the staff shortages herself.
Health boards have already used education centres to help boost recruitment in the Highlands and Western Isles.
The NHS will suspend inpatient paediatric care at Dr Gray’s from Friday.
But Grampian Health Board has explained that 24-hour emergency treatment will not be affected.
The health authority has insisted the move has been solely prompted by staffing and not financial considerations.
Management have pledged to ensure the impact on patients will be kept to a minimum but have admitted drawing up new measures to restore the service to Moray could take “several months”.
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “Any initiative that would attract a variety of skills and disciplines to the north-east, particularly around healthcare, would be welcomed.”