Staff absence within NHS Scotland: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

The number (and as a percentage) of clinical staff currently on sick, with reasons for absence; 

  • The number (and as a percentage) of clinical staff currently who are waiting to access Occupational Health Service (or equivalent);
  • The waiting time for a member of clinical staff to meet with Occupational Health Service (or equivalent).
  • What action(s) have you taken, or propose to take, to provide appropriate support for junior doctors."


Whilst we hold data regarding the overall percentage of all staff absence within NHS Scotland, we do not hold information at the granularity you have requested, specifically data on the absence of clinical staff. In addition, the overall percentage that the Scottish Government holds does not provide the reason for absence, as this would be classified as personal information.

Regarding your second request, information regarding an individual’s involvement with Occupational Health is personal information relating to individuals who are employed by Health Boards throughout Scotland, who are not directly employed by the Scottish Government, and we do not hold that data.

You may wish to note that personal information is subject to the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 and may be withheld by the authorities that hold it.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have all the information you have requested.

You may wish to contact the individual Health Boards throughout Scotland who may be able to help you. Contact details for these Health Boards are readily available on the Internet.

In answer to the last point of your request, I can inform you that the wellbeing of the workforce, wherever they work, remains a key priority and we are working to ensure that the right level of support is offered across the system. In Financial Year 21/22 we made £12 million available to support the wellbeing of the workforce. This included £8 million from the NHS Recovery Plan to provide ongoing wellbeing support for the workforce alongside an additional £4 million to provide further support to address winter pressures.

We have made available the National Wellbeing Hub, a 24/7 National Wellbeing Helpline, confidential mental health treatment through the Workforce Specialist  Service and funding for additional local psychological support. We are also providing further support for practical measures to aid rest and recuperation alongside additional resources such as Coaching for Wellbeing and grief and bereavement support.

Throughout the pandemic, we have emphasised to Boards, Health and Social Care Partners and Local Authorities the on-going need to promote both the physical and the psychological wellbeing of everyone working in health and social care. Kind and compassionate leadership that listens and fosters diverse, inclusive and positive workplace cultures is crucial to improving staff wellbeing and as a result it helps to deliver high quality care.

I would like to reassure you that the Scottish Government is fully committed to listening to doctors and dentists and Officials and Ministers meet regularly with BMA Scotland and other partners to seek out ways in which staff are supported, and to identify where conditions could be improved.

I would also like to make you aware that in respect of Junior Doctors, this Government has taken action to improve working conditions for this important cohort of staff. We have abolished working seven full night shifts in a row, abolished working for any more than seven day shifts in a row, and implemented a minimum rest period of 46 hours off following a run of full shift night shift working. We have recently published the Final Report of the Expert Working Group for a 48-hour Maximum Working Week (without averaging) for Junior Doctors in Scotland, and we have recently issued guidance to NHS Boards restricting the consecutive days of long shifts (greater than 10 hours) to a limit of 4 in any seven days for a junior doctor. We continue to communicate and engage with the BMA on issues such as rotas, facilities and staff wellbeing.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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