Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019: overview

Overview of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019. The provisions in the Act came into force 1 April 2024.


About 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 services, enabling safe and high quality care and improved outcomes for service users.  It builds on existing policies and procedures within both health and care services and effective implementation aims to embed a culture of openness and transparency, ensuring staff are informed about decisions relating to staffing and able to raise concerns.

Further information

Read the full text of the Act on the UK Legislation website.

Statutory guidance has been published to support organisations in meeting their requirements under the Act. This guidance is technical and aimed at those working in health and care services. Educational resources for staff can be found on Turas Learn.

Who this Act affects

The Act affects health services and care services in different ways.

Health settings

For health settings, the Act places a duty on the following organisations to ensure both appropriate numbers of staff and appropriate types of professions:

  • NHS Ayrshire and Arran
  • NHS Borders
  • NHS Dumfries and Galloway
  • NHS Fife
  • NHS Forth Valley
  • NHS Grampian
  • NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • NHS Highland
  • NHS Lanarkshire
  • NHS Lothian
  • NHS Orkney
  • NHS Shetland
  • NHS Tayside
  • NHS Western Isles
  • NHS National Waiting Times Centre (Golden Jubilee Hospital)
  • NHS 24
  • Scottish Ambulance Service
  • The State Hospitals Board for Scotland
  • NHS National Services Scotland.

Where health care is delegated to an integration authority, the duties and requirements under the Act still apply. To support this duty, the Act lists a number of other requirements that must be followed, such as:

  • reporting to Scottish Ministers on the use of high-cost agency staff
  • identifying risks relating to staffing in real-time, and having a procedure to address these
  • seeking and having regard to advice given by clinicians on staffing
  • ensuring adequate time is given to clinicians who lead a team of staff to fulfil their leadership responsibilities
  • ensuring staff receive appropriate training for their role
  • using the common staffing method (only in certain circumstances)

These organisations will have to report annually to the Scottish Ministers on how they have carried out the duties in the Act.

Scottish Ministers must collate these annual reports and lay them before Parliament, along with a statement explaining how the information in the reports will be used to inform and improve policies for health service staffing.

Scottish Ministers must also take reasonable steps to ensure there is a sufficient number of registered nurses, registered midwives and medical practitioners to enable organisations to comply with the duty to ensure appropriate staffing.

Care settings

For care settings, the Act places a duty on those who provide care services to ensure both appropriate staffing and appropriate training of staff.

Local authorities and integration authorities will have to consider the requirements of the Act when they plan or secure care services and will have to report on this annually to the Scottish Ministers.

Scottish Ministers will have to report annually to Parliament on staffing in care services.




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