David R HoggProfessional Profile
23 May 2016

Scotland’s GP Rural Fellowship: what is it and where are they now?


In Scotland 20% of the population live in a remote or rural area spread across 94% of the land mass that is defined as remote and rural. The Scottish Government has, in its Quality Strategy outlined the need for equitable access to high quality healthcare services for all patients regardless of personal characteristics including geographic location.
NES works in partnership with territorial Health Boards and medical schools to address rural recruitment and retention through a variety of initiatives and the longest established of these is the GP Rural Fellowship, which has been in place since 2002.The current model involves co-funding arrangements between NES and participating Boards supporting a maximum of 12 fellows per year.

Summary of work

A survey of all previous rural fellows was undertaken in the first quarter of 2014 including all fellows that had undertaken the fellowship in the 11 academic years from 2002/03 to 2012/13. A total of 69 GPs were recruited to the fellowship in this period with a response rate of 98%.

Summary of results

A total of 46 graduates are working in rural areas or accessible small towns (71%), 39 in substantive general practice roles (60%).


Scotland’s GP Rural Fellowship programme is an example of successful collaboration between education and service and the results of this survey suggest that approximately three quarters of graduates are retained in important roles in rural Scotland.

Take-home message

Scotland´s GP Rural Fellowship is an initiative that positively impacts on rural recruitment and retention.

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