We support the NHSScotland workforce to deliver a resilient, efficient and high quality healthcare service.

NHSScotland currently employs approximately 160,000 staff who work across 14 regional NHS Boards, seven Special NHS Boards and one public health body.

All NHS Boards are accountable to Scottish Ministers, supported by the Scottish Government.


More information about our work is on the following pages: 

We also:

More information about our work relating to the following professions is in our primary care services policy

Information about pharmacy and medicines is in our website archive.


We produced our Healthcare Quality Strategy for Scotland in May 2010. This strategy identified the following priorities:

  • caring and compassionate staff and services
  • clear communication and explanation about conditions and treatment
  • effective collaboration between clinicians, patients and others
  • a clean and safe care environment
  • continuity of care
  • clinical excellence

We published Everyone Matters: 2020 workforce vision in June 2013 which sets out a vision for the workforce and the values that area shared across NHSScotland.

The vision states the core values of NHS Scotland as:

  • care and compassion
  • dignity and respect
  • openness, honesty and responsibility
  • quality and teamwork

The priorities for action in the workforce vision were grouped into the following areas:

  • healthy organisational culture
  • sustainable workforce
  • capable workforce
  • workforce to deliver integrated services (across health and social care)
  • effective leadership and management

We subsequently published implementation plans and progress reviews for the workforce vision. 

Bills and legislation

The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019

The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019 provides a statutory basis for the provision of appropriate staffing in health and care service settings, enabling safe and high quality care and improved outcomes for service users. It will do this by ensuring that the right people with the right skills are in the right place at the right time creating better outcomes for patients and service users, and supporting the wellbeing of staff. 

The effective application of this legislation will: 

  • provide assurance that staffing is appropriate to support high quality care, identify where improvements in quality are required and determine where staffing has impacted on quality of care
  • support an open and honest culture where clinical/professional staff are engaged in relevant processes and informed about decisions relating to staffing requirements
  • enable further improvements in workforce planning by strengthening and enhancing arrangements already in place to support transparency in staffing and employment practice 
  • ensure the clinical voice is heard at all levels by ensuring arrangements are in place to seek and take appropriate clinical advice in making decisions and putting in place arrangements in relation to staffing 

We are producing statutory guidance to support this Act.

We have published an overview of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019 for those who will be affected by it (health professionals and care service providers) to inform them of their responsibilities and signpost to support available. The provisions in the Act come into force in April 2024.

More information

Implementation was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic but is now a key part of the government’s reset, recover and reform agenda.

Health sector staff can find the implementation timetable as well as further information on the Healthcare Staffing Programme on the Healthcare Improvement Scotland website.

Care Sector staff can find the implementation timetable as well as further information on the Safe Staffing Programme on the Care Inspectorate website.

NHS Reform (Scotland) Act 2004

The NHS Reform (Scotland) Act 2004 brought forward legislation to reform the National Health Service. It did this by:

  • introducing provisions in relation to the dissolution of NHS Trusts
  • establishing Community Health Partnerships
  • placing a duty on Health Boards to co-operate with each other
  • extending Ministerial powers to intervene to secure the quality of healthcare services
  • placing a duty on Health Boards and Special Health Boards to involve the public in the planning, development and operation of health services
  • placing a duty on the Scottish Ministers and Health Boards to take action to promote health improvement.

The Act also includes provisions in relation to the governance of NHS staff as well as the promotion of equal opportunities in the NHS.


Email: ceu@gov.scot

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