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

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.


About the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019

The Act aims to enable high quality care and improved outcomes for people using services in both health and care by helping to ensure appropriate staffing. The Act places duties on health boards, care service providers, Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS), the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Ministers.

Health boards, local authorities and integration authorities will submit annual reports to Scottish Ministers on their compliance with the Act, high cost agency use and any severe and recurrent risks.

Scottish Ministers will then report on compliance and offer recommendations to Parliament. The data from these reports will help inform local and national workforce planning, along with health and social care policies.

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

Timetable for implementation

The Act was passed by Parliament in 2019 but implementation was paused due to the pandemic. All the provisions within the Act will come into force in April 2024.

Who this Act affects

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

Health settings

For health settings, the Act places a duty on health boards to ensure appropriate staffing. This means ensuring both appropriate numbers of staff and appropriate types of professions. Within health, all clinical staff, including staff who provide clinical advice, are subject to the duties within the Act.

Care settings

For care settings, the Act places a duty on those who provide care services to ensure appropriate staffing. Care services operate differently to health care and, in this environment, all staff involved in the care of the person using the service are included.

We have developed a draft list of roles for further clarity.

Current actions

The main workstreams of the Act implementation team are:

  • drafting statutory legislative guidance in collaboration with the health and social care sector
  • drafting regulations that are needed to commence provisions in the Act
  • engaging with health boards, care service providers, and professional groups
  • testing statutory guidance with health boards and care service providers that will provide valuable learning prior to the Act coming into force
  • working with other teams in the Scottish Government to align different programmes of work. For example, exploring how the use of the eRostering software platform within health boards can help with the reporting requirements of the Act

The Healthcare Staffing Programme within HIS is working with health boards to help them prepare for implementation of the Act. Following implementation, HIS will monitor boards for their compliance with the Act and will also have a role in designing and developing tools to assist managers in health care with assessing what is appropriate staffing.

Read details about the work of the Healthcare Staffing Programme.  

Similarly, the Safe Staffing Programme within the Care Inspectorate is working with care service providers to help them prepare for implementation and is also currently researching the use of staffing methods and tools in care homes for older people. Read details about the work of the Safe Staffing Programme.



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