Planning for Scotland’s health and social care workforce

First national strategy sets out steps to recruit, nurture and retain staff.

A new framework to shape Scotland’s health and social care workforce over the next decade places training, wellbeing, job satisfaction and the principles of Fair Work at its heart.

The National Workforce Strategy for Health and Social Care in Scotland, co-produced with COSLA, identifies the five key areas which will support the creation of a sustainable, skilled workforce as the sector rebuilds from the pandemic.

The publication, the first of its kind, stresses the need to plan, attract, train, employ and nurture staff.

Over the next five years, the Strategy commits to increasing the NHS workforce by 1,800 full time posts - these posts are in addition to projected required workforce growth. Later this year the Scottish Government will publish, for the first time, projections of required workforce growth across health and social care, which will be reviewed annually.

Other key actions include:  

  • Investing £11 million over this parliament to establish the Centre for Workforce Supply and fund recruitment campaigns to grow the health and social care workforce
  • Increasing the number of undergraduate medical school places over the course of this parliament by 500
  • Supporting up to 1,800 training places through the National Transition Training Fund for those interested in roles in adult social care
  • Recruiting 800 additional GPs by 2028
  • Further improving  staff wellbeing measures, which have already been supported by record financial investment this year
  • Increasing frontline health spending by at least 20% over this parliament and increasing adult social care investment by at least by 25%

Health boards, local authorities and health and social care partnerships will play a central role in delivering the Strategy through their three year workforce plans, the first of which will be developed this year.

Health and Social Care Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“Our hardworking and compassionate health and social care staff have been on the frontline of patient care through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, and I am incredibly grateful to them all.

“While we have seen continued growth in our NHS and social care workforce over the past decade, we need more than sheer numbers alone as we continue to care for patients and plan for the future.

“This strategy is designed to embed a new long term approach. It commits to understanding the change in demand for services as we recover, rebuild and transform our health service, and how we can achieve a more sustainable, skilled workforce which makes careers in health and social care – at all levels – more attractive.

“The health and social care system continues to undergo rapid change, with exciting opportunities created by new technology, data and analytical services. Working with key partners, this strategy will help ensure that services are delivered by a sustainable, well trained and supported workforce.”

Councillor Stuart Currie, COSLA’s Health and Social Care spokesperson, said:

“Scotland’s health and social care workforce has been at the forefront of the pandemic response. Working in extremely challenging environments, they have faced unprecedented pressures and made many individual sacrifices.

“Partners working across health and social care must now adopt a strategic approach to the recovery, growth and transformation of the workforce that supports the wellbeing of workers, a continued shift to prevention and the provision of high quality support and care for citizens.

“The values, outcomes and actions outlined in this Strategy provide a foundation for excellence in planning, attracting, developing and nurturing the Health and Social Care workforce, at national and local levels.”


The National Workforce Strategy for Health and Social Care in Scotland.


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