Rapid population ageing raises questions about both the supply of people to provide health and social care services and likely increased demand for provision. These issues are potentially exacerbated in remote and rural areas, given recognised challenges of recruitment and retention of the rural medical and nursing workforce and the shifting age structure of populations resident in rural locations. However, despite these trends and the considerable consequences they are likely to have in terms of care delivery and supply, the rural workforce is relatively poorly understood. The aim of this study was therefore to examine the composition and change of the remote and rural nursing workforce in Scotland - and specifically the Highlands and Islands - over the past decade. This paper presents two analyses: First, using data from the Scottish Longitudinal Study, this paper cross-sectionally compares and contrasts the composition of the nursing workforce in Scotland in 2001 and 2011 disaggregated by the Scottish Government's urban-rural classification. Second, it presents longitudinal analysis indicating how rurality influenced retention of nurses for those indicated to be registered nurses in 2001 over the next decade, by comparing those resident in remote and rural areas in 2001 to those resident in urban settings. Investigation of influence of rurality on working patterns (ie full-/part-time) will also be presented. Implications of findings in terms of workforce planning and support as well as educational provision in remote and rural parts of Scotland will be discussed.
This abstract was presented at the Innovative Solutions in Remote Healthcare - 'Rethinking Remote' conference, 23-24 May 2016, Inverness, Scotland.