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US assistants for Scotland

Scottish Executive officials have flown to the US in a bid to hire physicians' assistants.

The US assistants are being recruited for a two-year pilot scheme to help GPs and hospital doctors.

The physicians will be newly-qualified science graduates who will carry out minor operations after only one or two years of medical training.

Assistants in GP surgeries will work in the Western Isles, Lanarkshire, Grampian, Highland, Lothian and Tayside areas. If successful, the scheme will be rolled out across the country.

But the move was criticised by the BMA. Dr Dean Marshall, vice-chair of the Scottish GPC, said he was unaware of any staff shortages that warranted recruiting from such a distance.

He said: 'I am still not sure why we need these people ­ there are plenty of people here we could train up.'

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