Call for nursing degree to be brought to Fort William
PEOPLE in Fort William are calling on the University of the Highlands and Islands to include its Fort William campus in a new adult nursing degree.
The University of the Highlands and Islands will take over the BSc adult nursing programme from the University of Stirling in September 2017 with the theory part of the degree being delivered in Inverness and Stornoway.
Potential Fort William students took to social media last week to express their disappointment that they would not be able to study for the degree in their home town but would have to travel almost 200 miles to Stornoway, or more than 60 miles to Inverness.
Elaine Stoddart, 33, a health care assistant at Tweedale medical practice, Fort William, posted about the issue on Facebook on January 19 and more than 120 people commented to say they were interested, or knew people who may be interested in studying for the degree if they could do it at the Fort William college.
Elaine, who lives in Caol with her four young children aged between three to nine, told The
Oban Times: ‘Nursing is something I have always wanted to do, but it’s just not possible with all the travelling that would be involved.’
Elaine asked UHI about the possibility of being able to study at the Fort William campus and make use of Lochaber services for placements and was asked to feed back the level of demand for this. Currently students from Stirling come to Fort William on placement and Elaine and others questioned why people who lived in the town could therefore not study and do their placements here.
She continued: ‘It would be so good for the whole area in terms of the economy and all the people who want to do the course, but can’t travel, to have it in Fort William. We should be making use of the local resources we have.
‘We have the Belford, GP practices and district nurses.
‘I think the support would be in place.
‘People here are at a disadvantage because of where we live. Living in this area is brilliant and people are having to move away to do what they want.
‘People should be able to get the qualifications they want when we have the university here.’
Health care assistant in Ballachulish and mum of two Katy Patterson got in touch with
The Oban Times to say nursing is something she has been thinking about doing since her dad was hurt in an accident five years ago.
Katy, whose children are two and five, said she would like to start studying once her youngest starts school: ‘ There just isn’t scope to do it round here just now. You have to travel so far, but it’s something I want to do now.’
A spokesperson for UHI said: ‘The Nursing and Midwifery Council has given approval for the theoretical part of the programme to be delivered in Inverness and Stornoway. Students will then undertake their practice elements across the region. This will continue to include, as it currently does with University of Stirling, placements in Fort William.
‘In the future, we intend to look at how we can best support students/potential future students who are distant from the delivery campuses.’
Elaine Stoddart with son Joey at the Fort William campus.