Under the new Scottish Clinicians Collaborative, which is being developed by the Scottish Government and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, clinicians who have recently retired or are working part-time can take on short-term work to support rural general hospitals where recruitment can be challenging.
Speaking at the launch in Edinburgh, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We are experiencing a period of unprecedented change and medical education must adapt and evolve to meet the expectations of our healthcare services. Our health service benefits if we can retain the expertise and skills of our most experienced doctors and health professionals.
“We are committed to high quality care in our rural communities. These highly experienced clinicians have told us that they would welcome the opportunity to maintain their clinical interests in more flexible ways, making them ideally suited to working in rural environments.”
Consultant Surgeon Robert Diament retired from NHS Ayrshire and Arran in 2018 and now works as a travelling Locum Consultant Surgeon in Scotland's remote and rural hospitals.
He said: “This joint venture is an opportunity for senior consultants from across the country to come together and provide specialist services wherever and whenever they are required. This support is required in some of Scotland's more remote communities where the sustainability of specialist hospital services is particularly challenging.”
Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Monica Lennon said: "Any steps being taken to support local and rural services in our NHS are to be welcomed but the need to bring doctors out of retirement underlines the staffing crisis in our hospitals and GP surgeries after twelve years of SNP mismanagement.
"A decade of failed workforce planning has got us to the point where clinicians are being asked to come out of retirement to help ease the pressure. With Audit Scotland warning that the future of our NHS is not sustainable, the Scottish Government must take urgent action to properly equip our health services.”
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said that Scotland is "lucky to have so many retired doctors" who are willing to return to the frontline.
He added: "Of course, had the SNP Government not bungled the training of new recruits, none of this would be necessary.
"It's yet another reminder about just how badly this nationalist administration has failed when it comes to planning for the future of the NHS."