NHS staffing reaches record high

Over 150,000 workers now employed.

Staffing levels in Scotland’s NHS have reached a record high after an increase of almost 9,000.

The highest number of Medical and Dental Consultants, Qualified Nurses and Midwives and Allied Health Professionals are now employed.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the Scottish Government is committed to remobilising the NHS in the weeks and months ahead.

Mr Yousaf said: "I would like to pay tribute to the heroic efforts of all our NHS throughout this pandemic.

"These figures underline the Scottish Government's investment in our NHS as we prioritise the country's recovery from COVID-19.

"Staffing levels  reached a record high of over 150,000 Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) in March, a rise of almost 9,000 on the previous year.

"The increase of 25,000, under this government, underlines our ongoing determination to prioritise investment in the NHS.

"I am now determined that the remobilisation of the NHS will be among our top priorities.

"We will publish a national recovery plan for the NHS within the first 100 days of the new parliament."

The figures show:

  • NHS Scotland’s staffing levels have increased by 6.2% (or 8,955.3 WTE) in the last year and by 2.5% (3,759.2 WTE) in the last quarter
  • since 2006, NHS Scotland’s staffing levels have increased by over 25,000 WTE (to 152,395.9 WTE at March 2021). NHS Scotland’s workforce numbers are at a record high at March 2021, including record high numbers of Medical & Dental Consultants, Qualified Nurses and Midwives and Allied Health Professionals
  • Medical & Dental Consultants (inc Director level consultants) have increased by 3.3% (to 5,788.7 WTE), qualified nurses and midwives (inc Interns) up 3.7% (to 46,259.8 WTE) and Allied Health Professionals up 2.4% (to 12,360.9) in the last year
  • NHS Scotland has higher staffing per head: 27.9 WTE staff per 1,000 people in Scotland (Mar 2021) while in England it is 20.9 WTE (Jan 2021)


Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on collation of more detailed data by Boards, Scotland-level data on vacancies for Consultants, Nursing and Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals for March 2021 is not available. In addition, NHS Board colleagues who normally provide data, we did not have full vacancy data as at 31 March, 30 June and 31 December 2020. Vacancy data as at 31 March 2021 are incomplete with no submission from NHS Western Isles and a partial submission for Consultants from NHS Dumfries & Galloway (WTE only.)

Read the full statistical bulletin.


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