Preparing the NHS for Winter

More than £600 million to support services.

Additional funding of £8 million for overseas nurse recruitment and increased flexibility for Health Boards to retain staff are among new measures to support the health and care system through what is anticipated to be an extremely challenging winter.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has outlined a number of actions for the coming months backed by more than £600 million of funding.

Measures to support services include:

  • recruitment of 1,000 additional staff over the course of this winter, including £8 million to recruit up to 750 nurses, midwives and allied health professionals from overseas as well as 250 support staff across acute, primary care and mental health;
  • flexibility for Health Boards to offer ‘pension recycling’, where unused employer contributions can be paid as additional salary, to support the retention of staff;
  • £45 million for the Scottish Ambulance Service to support on-going recruitment, service development and winter planning;
  • £124 million to assist health and social care partnerships expand care at home capacity;  
  • extension of the Social Care Staff Support Fund to 31 March 2023, to ensure staff receive full pay when in COVID isolation;
  • Writing to GPs to communicate the expectation that pre-bookable appointments are made available in every practice, alongside same day, face to face and remote appointments;

The first annual update has also been published on the NHS Recovery Plan which highlights significant progress made in the last year, including increasing NHS workforce to historically high levels, the success of the COVID vaccination programme, and a marked reduction in outpatient waits of over two years.

Mr Yousaf said:

“NHS Scotland’s staffing and funding is already at historically high levels, but as we approach the winter period it is crucial that we look to maximise, and enhance where we can, the capacity of the NHS. Given the scale of the escalating cost of living crisis, combined with the continued uncertainty posed by COVID and a possible resurgence of Flu, this winter will be one of the most challenging our NHS has ever faced.

“These measures will support winter resilience across our health and care system, ensuring people get the right care they need at the right time and in the most appropriate setting. We will also expand our workforce, particularly registered nurses to assist with the expected increase in workload. We have jointly agreed a number of overarching priorities with Cosla which will help guide our services this winter. We are on course to double our virtual capacity this year and so far have avoided or saved bed days equivalent to adding a large district general hospital.

“We have published the first update on our NHS Recovery Plan which highlights just how much progress we have made in the past year, I am determined to build on this and we will report on progress annually.  

“Our NHS and social care staff have shown remarkable resilience in the face of sustained pressure on services and I would like to thank them for their continued commitment and hard work. As we approach the Winter period their efforts will be vital in ensuring we deliver high quality care for the public.

“To help relieve pressure on services, people should continue to consider whether their condition is an emergency before going to A&E. Local GPs and pharmacies can be contacted during the day for non-critical care, NHS 24 is also available on 111 for non-emergencies.”


The Winter Resilience Overview 2022-23 is backed with more than £600 million of funding through the 2022/23 budget.

NHS Recovery Plan 2021-2026 - Progress Update


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