Sustainable health and social care services

UK’s first integrated workforce plan published.

Scotland will introduce the UK’s first integrated health and social care workforce plan, which includes the creation of a new national thrombectomy service.

Created in partnership with COSLA, the plan sets out how health and social care services will meet growing demand and ensure there are enough staff with the right skills in place across health and social care services.

This includes an increase of 375 Whole Time Equivalent district nurses over the next five years and an 8.6% increase in the number of Mental Health Officers (MHOs) employed by local authorities. An additional 60 training places for Clinical Psychologists will also be created – furthering action already underway to grow the mental health workforce in Scotland by 800.

Student nursing intake will also increase for the eighth consecutive year, up by 5%, creating 4,206 places for 2020-21.

The plan also announces a new training programme, already underway at NHS Tayside, to upskill Interventional Radiologists in Mechanical Thrombectomy (MT). Backed by £600,000 from the Scottish Government it is envisaged the programme will be rolled out across the country with the first patients undergoing the procedure towards the end of next year.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“This is the UK’s first integrated health and social care workforce plan and it will be invaluable in helping us to anticipate and respond to the changing and growing demand faced by our health and social care services. 

“One key example of this is our commitment to create a national thrombectomy service to treat stroke victims - a vital step in the planning and delivery of a comprehensive stroke service for Scotland.

“We have record numbers working across our health and social care services – with NHS staffing levels up 11.3% since 2006 and the social care workforce at its highest level since reports began. As this plan outlines, the threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit remains, and as a responsible government we will continue to do all we can to protect our health and social care services.”

COSLA Health and Social Care Spokesperson Councillor Stuart Currie said:

“COSLA is pleased to support the publication of Scotland’s first integrated health and social care workforce plan. Workforce planning is essential to ensure that Scotland’s people receive the right care, by the right people, at the right time and in the right place. 

“We look forward to continued cross-sectoral work, to realise this plan’s ambition and to further develop capacity and capability for workforce planning in social care and beyond, for the benefit of our citizens’ health and wellbeing.”


National health and social care workforce plan

The key commitments of the plan are:

  • create 225 more Advanced Musculo-Skeletal (MSK) Practitioners in Primary Care, by increasing MSc training places for the Physiotherapy workforce
  • support the shift in balance of care into community settings, by delivering more care at home and reducing rates of admission to acute hospital services. Train and introduce into the workforce an additional 375 nurses within the district nursing service based upon the current skills mix, over the next five years
  • increase the Cardiac Physiologist workforce, thereby increasing capacity to carry out diagnostic testing, by supporting an additional 30 training places on the four year BSc course in Clinical Physiology
  • over the next three to five years there will be a focus on increasing the workforce by promoting recruitment into Scientist Training Programmes and Practitioner BSc Programmes
  • create up to 120 more Pharmacists available to work in primary care settings,  increasing Pharmacy pre-registration training places by 40 each year over the next three years
  • support an additional 60 Clinical Psychologists in training by increasing the training programme intake by 10 students per year for the next three years and maintain the current intake level (30 per annum) for both Masters training programmes. This will continue the additional 10 places which have been available in recent years
  • support additional Mental Health Officer (MHO) capacity in local authorities by providing funding to help address the current shortfall in capacity of 55 WTE by 2022-23
  • in the medium term, modelling work will take place to assess the impact of reforms to adults with incapacity requirements, particularly around guardianship applications on mental health services workload and demand for MHOs
  • increase Reporting Radiography training places by 30 (10 in each of the next three years)
  • in partnership with NHS Tayside, the Scottish Government will develop a bespoke training programme to upskill Interventional Radiologists (and others with appropriate skills), to perform Mechanical Thrombectomy (MT) procedures to improve treatment of stroke patients across Scotland, and ensure these skills are approved as credentials by the GMC
  • provide informal and formal skills development for workforce planners across health and social care employers
  • design and oversee work to obtain a national picture of workforce planning capacity, methodology and capability in Local Authorities/ Health and Social Care Partnerships for planning social care services. We will respond by considering how best to support effective collaborative and strategic workforce planning in light of the findings
  • over the next 12 months, Scottish Government and COSLA will work with the Scottish University and College sectors to examine, develop and build a workforce planning educational qualification - building a strategic approach to developing workforce planning education and skills for the health and social care workforce
  • provide additional support in 2019/21 to the third and independent social care sectors to enable their contributions to the developments in workforce planning to be supported through this workforce plan

The Scottish Government remains on track to deliver:

  • access to Pharmacist support for all GP practices by the end of 2021
  • 250 community link workers working in GP surgeries by 2021
  • 2,600 more nursing and midwifery training places by 2021
  • 500 additional Advanced Nurse Practitioners trained by 2021
  • 1000 more paramedics training in the community
  • 800 additional Mental Health Workers in A&E departments, GP practices, police custody suites and a range of other settings
  • 250 additional School Nurses by 2022
  • 80 additional counsellors in Further and Higher Education over the next four years 
  • all children and young people (over the age of 10) will be able to access counselling services in every secondary school by September 2020
  • an increase to the GP workforce of 800, by 2027

The Nursing and Midwifery Student Bursary (NMSB) provides financial support to eligible (Scottish domiciled) student nurses and midwives. The core NMSB, which is non-means tested and non-repayable, has been set at £6,578 per year since 2009/10 and is increasing to £8,100 in 2019/20 and to £10,000 in 2020/21.


Media enquiries

Back to top