Expanding Scotland’s Medical Workforce

Funding to create extra training places for doctors in 2024.

Record levels of investment will see an additional 153 trainee doctor posts created next year in what will be the largest annual expansion on record.

This level of expansion represents a 2.3% increase above the current whole time equivalent workforce of 6570 trainees.

The additional posts, costing £42m over the next four years, are being funded by the Scottish Government to help meet growing demand in a number of key specialties.

NHS Education for Scotland recommended uplifts in 24 different specialties overall, including anaesthetics, emergency medicine, general practice, intensive care medicine, paediatrics, psychiatry and surgery. Successful applicants will take up their posts in August 2024.

Health Secretary Michael Matheson said:

“Funding for these additional places will help to relieve some of the pressures currently facing our health service.

“The level of expansion taking place in 2024 – the largest ever – shows the Scottish Government’s continued investment and commitment to ensure that our health service is equipped to deliver timely and effective care to those who need it.

“Under this government NHS staffing is at a historically high level – up by around 29,100 whole time equivalent.

“We will continue to work with NHS Education for Scotland to support our trainees and ensure that we have a sufficient supply of doctors to meet future demand.”

NHS Education for Scotland Medical Director Emma Watson said:

“We welcome this announcement of additional posts across a wide range of specialties and in particular general practice.

“The increase will ensure we can support our doctors to work more flexibly where communities need them. We believe Scotland offers the highest quality medical education. Our trainees are a key part of the NHS workforce of the future - enabling us to offer better quality care and outcomes for every citizen in Scotland.”


Trainee doctors make up approximately 40% of all doctors currently employed by NHS Scotland Health Boards and therefore play a major role in service delivery. There are 6570 whole time equivalent trainees in post across all grades and specialties as of November 2023.

Scottish Ministers have approved a total of 725 additional training places since 2014. This number will increase by 153 from 2024 onwards. One hundred and fifty-two posts were created this year, and 139 were added in 2022.

Recommendations to expand were submitted by NHS Education for Scotland in collaboration with the Scottish Shape of Training Transition Group, with the help of medical workforce modelling data.

The group is chaired by Dr John Colvin, senior medical advisor to the Scottish Government, and includes members from the Scottish Government, NES, BMA Scotland, Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and various NHS Scotland Health Board representatives. A similar process will take place in 2024 for expansion taking place in 2025.


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