Reduced working week for healthcare staff

Implementation of Agenda for Change recommendations.

NHS Agenda for Change staff - including nurses, midwives, paramedics, allied health professionals, porters and others - will see a reduction of 30 minutes in their working week from April 1 this year.

The move follows a recommendation from a working group set up to implement a previous commitment to cut the number of working hours as part of the 2023/24 pay deal. It is one of a number of measures to modernise the NHS Scotland Agenda for Change system and has been agreed with trade unions.

If, due to service pressures, safe staffing or wellbeing issues, it is not possible for a staff member to receive their 30 minute reduction they will be recompensed accordingly, until such times as the reduction can be accommodated.

Other measures agreed include:

  • a consistent approach to Protected Learning Time across all NHS Scotland Boards, and
  • a defined process for undertaking a review of Band 5 nursing roles with any Band 5 nurse able to self-apply for a review of their role if they believe they meet the criteria. 

The changes will support NHS Scotland workforce recruitment, sustainability and retention.

Health Secretary Neil Gray said:

“Our Agenda for Change system recognises the value, dedication and hard work of our staff and makes NHS Scotland an employer of choice. 

“We expect NHS Boards to work in partnership with trade unions and staff to reduce the working week. This presents an opportunity to modernise how staff are rostered and work, ensuring that NHS Scotland is a leader in flexible and family friendly working practices.

“I am grateful to both Trade Union and Employer representatives for working in partnership with us to develop these reforms to help modernise our service.”


The first 30-minute reduction in the working week for all Agenda for Change staff should start on 1 April 2024.  Analysis of the initial 30-minute reduction will be used to help inform the best way to roll out the remaining reductions in the working week in future years.

Further details, including implementation guidance on each of these areas will be issued to the NHS prior to 1 April 2024.


Media enquiries

Back to top