Health and social care delivery plan

Delivery plan to set out the framework and actions needed to ensure that our health and social care services are fit to meet requirements.

Appendix 2: National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan: Outline Discussion Paper


1. This document sets out the initial arrangements for the production, in early 2017, of a National Discussion Document on workforce planning in health and social care. A consultation exercise undertaken at this stage will report back and a final version of a National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan will be published in Spring 2017. There are three distinct stages:

  • Outline Discussion Paper: setting out initial arrangements prior to -
  • the National Discussion Document: to be published in early 2017, leading to -
  • the National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan, to be published by Spring 2017.

2. This is a complex area which will need time for all relevant stakeholders to have an opportunity for real engagement in order fully scope the landscape, issues and levers in order to 'get it right'. The production of the Workforce Plan by Spring 2017 should be seen as an intermediate step and part of a developing and iterative approach, not an end in itself. The Workforce Plan will be the first in an annual series aimed at improving workforce planning practice, as well as developing more effective and informed intelligence.

3. The Workforce Plan will present an opportunity to: a) refresh guidance for production of NHS Scotland workforce plans; and b) introduce workforce planning to which provides an overall picture for health and social care staff. The current position is different for NHS Scotland and Health and Social Care Partnerships, but the two will become increasingly interdependent in delivering care across Scotland, linking back to the recent Audit Scotland report recommendations. This outline discussion paper, the forthcoming National Discussion Document and the Workforce Plan, therefore, seek to achieve a balance in referring to working planning as it applies across NHS Scotland, and social work and social care interests.

4. Health and Social Care Partnerships are expected to develop integrated workforce plans to ensure people get the right support at the right time from staff who not only have the skills but are working in the most appropriate setting. The Workforce Plan should, therefore, look to support this agenda.

5. The need for the Workforce Plan derives from the national and international context within which workforce planning in health and social care needs to take place. The incremental approach reflects the timelines required to deliver a changed workforce and the effects of changing demand, demography and generational perspectives on work/life balance and careers. While the Workforce Plan and subsequent annual Plans will be practically focused and useable, they must also read across to and be able to adjust to strategic areas of health and social care reform.

6. This paper describes outline arrangements, processes around engagement, and some of the context for this work.

Aim of the Outline Discussion Paper

7. The aim of this paper is to set out the intended actions reflecting the Scottish Government's Programme for Government commitment on workforce planning and to assure organisations within health and social care - including NHS Boards and the full range of employers in the social service sector - of their full involvement in the work being undertaken to realise this commitment.


8. We are working to develop national and regional workforce planning through a Workforce Plan which helps deliver the direction set out in a range of strategic developments - among them this delivery plan as well as the National Clinical Strategy - while also reflecting progress in key areas of health and social care such as integration and self-directed support. To do this, we must ensure that all key stakeholders are able to contribute to and help to shape the Workforce Plan, so that it addresses their interests and issues.

9. As we work towards a Workforce Plan in 2017, we want to ensure a clear view for those responsible for workforce planning within health and social care services, on:

  • roles and responsibilities with regards to workforce planning, and in the production of the Workforce Plan itself, as well as current arrangements already in place;
  • Ministers' intentions to ensure better coordination of national, regional and local workforce planning against a complex and shifting health and social care background; and
  • how more consistent and coordinated workforce planning can help deliver better services and outcomes for Scotland's people.

The Workforce Plan will also provide an opportunity to consider integrated workforce planning arrangements, recognising differences in workforce planning practice between NHS Scotland, local authorities and other social service employers.


10. The need for a Workforce Plan stems from the Programme for Scotland commitments in relation to health and social care, as well as from Audit Scotland recommendations on workforce planning in relation to its recent findings on the public sector workforce [20] , health and social care integration [21] and on the NHS in 2016 [22] .

11. It is important that the Workforce Plan should apply in an integrated context, covering the social care services sector, comprising a wide range of support and services and employing 130,000 NHS Scotland staff and over 200,000 staff across the third, independent and public sectors [23] . There is a statutory duty on NHS Boards to undertake workforce planning and this will continue to apply. We, therefore, expect the Workforce Plan to be:

  • a strategic document, setting out the workforce vision for health and social care services, the priorities to be taken forward, the assessment of current resources to deliver the vision, and actions to close the gap between what we have and what we will need;
  • apply at a national level, linking, as appropriate, to regional and local levels; and
  • active and useable, making coherent workforce planning links between national and regional activity and offering frameworks for practical workforce planning in both the NHS Scotland and social services sectors.

12. The Workforce Plan will consider how workforce planning is influenced by the following developments in health and social care:

  • public service reform and integration of health and social care, allowing space for NHS Boards, local authorities and Health and Social Care Partnerships to plan for the workforce for the health and social care system that Scotland needs, now and in future;
  • Progr.5ng plans for elective centres;
  • recommendations on workforce planning from Audit Scotland [24] ;
  • the NHS Scotland Workforce 2020 Vision, Everyone Matters; and
  • approaches and methodologies in use which support development of services delivered by multi-disciplinary teams - for example, the Workforce Planning Guide by the Scottish Social Services Council, the NHS Scotland 6 Step Model, and local authority tools and guidance.

13. In relation to meeting the challenging health and social care needs required, the Workforce Plan will:

  • set out a useable framework to improve current workforce planning practice;
  • clarify how workforce planning should take place nationally, regionally and locally across health and social care;
  • map and coordinate similarities and differences in workforce planning practice; and
  • harmonise, reconcile and share approaches where appropriate, while preserving what works well.

Intended outcomes

14. The Workforce Plan will help to bring about:

  • clearer understanding about respective roles and responsibilities on workforce planning;
  • clearer understanding about the changes and improvements which need to be made and why;
  • improved consistency, allowing for sharing of best workforce planning practice across Scotland;
  • clearer evidence that robust workforce planning helps to deliver effective, efficient delivery of services and better patient/ service user/ client outcomes; and
  • a longer-term view of the challenges in regard to capacity and capability of this workforce and the solutions we need to design now in response to these.

Process for developing the Workforce Plan

15. An important first step will be to define and articulate the scale of the challenge and the scope of the Workforce Plan. Though NHS Boards are required to follow a single methodology, workforce planning practice can vary significantly. There is also considerable diversity in workforce planning practice between NHS Boards and employers in the social services sector. However, there are indications that workforce challenges are common to both, including: an ageing workforce and the need to provide care for a larger proportion of the population; increasing activity and demand on services; difficulties in recruitment for some hard-to-fill posts; the need to design multi-professional approaches to service challenges; and the availability and suitability of training and career pathways. Starting to be clearer about what can/should be dealt with nationally, regionally and locally will help.

16. Some workforce planning issues will require more pressing action. For the short to medium term, the Workforce Plan will need to:

  • for NHS Scotland, align workforce planning objectives with strategic policies, enabling capacity challenges to be identified before they become an issue;
  • improve workforce planning practice and issue more useable guidance to assist employers. This will apply across health and social care and, for NHS Scotland, will be specific about how this can be done at national, regional and local levels, recognising the key interest of Health and Social Care Partnerships in this development; and
  • examine how collecting, reporting and triangulating workforce planning information might be undertaken more efficiently, so we ensure it embeds with strategic and financial planning issues and translates into planned rather than reactive action. This might also be explored in an integrated context, given the range of different tools and resources available.

17. For the longer term, the Workforce Plan will need to develop a series of actions, perhaps set within a framework of tools accessible by different employers, allowing them to use these to build sufficient numbers of appropriately trained and qualified staff. This will involve exploring how to develop better intelligence through workforce analysis - being clear how a range of demand factors impact on supply. We will want to describe this in more detail as we move to publish the National Discussion Document in early 2017.


18. Designing a framework for workforce planning which can apply successfully to different sectors will take time. The arrangements for publishing the National Discussion Document and the Workforce Plan are:

  • in December 2016, issue this Outline Discussion Paper, seeking input in parallel from key stakeholders and consulting with COSLA and other key local government partners, NHS Management Steering Group, the Scottish Partnership Forum, the Human Resources Working Group on Integration and employer representative bodies such as Scottish Care and the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland. There will also be discussions with NHS Scotland and Health and Social Care Partnerships, professional bodies, representatives from the primary care sector and other professional stakeholders;
  • in early 2017, publish the National Discussion Document, aligning with other relevant publications/releases at that time; and
  • in Spring 2017, publish the National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan, which NHS Boards and employers in the social care sector can use to support development of their local plans, working with Health and Social Care Partnerships as appropriate.


19. The proposed new approach in the Workforce Plan will require roles and responsibilities in respect of workforce planning activity to be clarified and will involve:

i. forging closer links between and among:

  • senior managers in NHS Boards, local government and the social services sector responsible for strategic planning;
  • planners in NHS Boards, local government and the social services sector involved with implementing robust, progressive workforce plans, and aligning them with those for financial and service planning;
  • service managers, in a unique position to know the strengths and weaknesses of services to patients, service users and clients provided locally;
  • groups of health and social care professionals, whose views on achieving an optimum workforce balance will help build a workforce which will meet the future needs of health and social care;
  • trade unions across health and social care, whose input is key to creating the right working conditions for those professionals; and

ii. equipping NHS Boards, local government and the social care sector with the means to plan ahead effectively to ensure they have the right staff in the right place at the right time to provide safe, high-quality health and social care services for Scotland's people.

Next steps

20. We want as far as possible to use the existing infrastructure to work towards a Workforce Plan by:

  • using this Discussion Paper and the National Discussion Document to invite constructive input, views and comment; and
  • visiting NHS Boards, Health and Social Care Partnerships, COSLA, local authorities and other social services employers to seek views, intelligence and support; and consulting the full range of stakeholders across the health, social care sectors, independent sector, trade unions and professional/regulatory organisations, educational institutions and other interested parties.

21. Arrangements covering governance, data and risks are currently being put in place to underpin the development of the Workforce Plan. These will ensure priority issues faced by the health and social care sector are addressed in a fully inclusive way. Once agreed, these arrangements will be shared with relevant parties.


22. Some of the workforce planning challenges specific to NHS Boards and social services sector are outlined below.

NHS Boards

23. Building a more effective workforce planning network with NHS managers, including HR Directors and workforce planners in NHS Boards, is urgently required.

  • Nationally: we will hold early discussions with HR Directors about the establishment of a national workforce planning group, to be taken forward in partnership between Scottish Government and the service, to ensure there is clarity of responsibility, governance and expectation. Dialogue to facilitate and establish this will involve membership from the wider medical and non-medical professions. This group will also need to consider how best to involve Health and Social Care Partnerships and social care representatives on practical workforce planning issues. The group will require a work programme that is solution-driven, and will need an active and dynamic agenda that prioritises workforce planning challenges, linked clearly to national priorities.
  • Regionally: regional workforce planning already takes place in the North, West and South East/Tayside - but it is variable in scope. A more inclusive approach is needed to allow solutions to be designed across individual NHS Board boundaries. The discussions above could also consider how work should be grouped at regional level, to evolve regional approaches to particular capacity challenges.
  • Locally: we need to maintain links with individual NHS Boards, local authorities and Health and Social Care Partnerships to ensure they are aware of and able to respond to the challenges in the Workforce Plan.

Social care employers

24. The Workforce Plan will need to recognise and address the challenges faced by the social services sector in recruiting and retaining the staff needed to deliver social care services. It will need to be relevant in different contexts, and achieve a 'fit' between existing workforce plans within health and social care (including NHS Boards, Health and Social Care Partnerships and local authorities).

25. Opportunities for joint working on this topic should be explored to minimise duplication of effort. It may be possible in future, for example, to consider the scope of Health and Social Care Partnership and NHS Board workforce plans so that they apply in more focused ways to different parts of the workforce - for example, the workforce delivering community health and social care services, and the workforce which delivers acute sector services. There will be opportunities to look at these issues in the National Discussion Document in early 2017.

26. It may be appropriate for the social care services sector to consider: whether it might build national and regional approaches into its workforce planning; and how local flexibility can best operate (particularly in the context of local government). Discussion on this will require further engagement within the social care sector, specifically involving local government and its representative organisations. In the social services sector it is understood that most, if not all, organisations take decisions about workforce planning at senior level and collect data on current:

  • staff numbers and costs;
  • vacancies; and
  • training activity.

Most organisations use this data for budget setting, day to day management and planning for short term needs. However relatively few use workforce planning tools - the most widely used being the Scottish Social Services Council Workforce Planning Guide [25] .

27. There is acknowledgement within the social service sector [26] about the urgency of workforce planning issues in light of demographic effects (such as ageing workforce) which influence the ability to plan ahead, the reliance of forecasting on available budgets and the daily effects of service changes (with consequences in planning for workforce). There are strong interconnections between workforce planning and pay, recruitment and retention and a range of other factors. It is clear that this will require an integrated approach not only to planning for services but also to workforce planning. This will require a systematic approach informed by accurate, coordinated and relevant data, allowing available capacity to be deployed flexibly.

Health and Social Care Partnerships

28. Although Health and Social Care Partnerships are required to complete integrated workforce development plans, not all have yet been completed and there is some variance in their contents. The position of Health and Social Care Partnerships is relevant here too. Although Health and Social Care Partnerships are not employers themselves, they are tasked with managing joint budgets to provide integrated health and community care services in the most effective way possible. They will play a key role in shaping workforce demand and in supporting 'intelligent forecasting', which should be reflected in both NHS Scotland and social care services workforce planning.


29. We plan to contact all NHS Boards, COSLA and Health and Social Care Partnerships
as we engage on developing the National Discussion Document. While aims and expectations depend on effective communication, we are realistic about the audience we can achieve in the limited time available. All are important and will need good reason to invest in facilitated time.

30. We will aim to involve the following professional staff groupings, principally through their existing representative bodies but also, where possible, individually:

  • staff side representatives - including Scottish Partnership Forum, the Society for Personnel and Development Scotland, Unison, Unite, GMB, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, and the British Medical Association;
  • the HR Working Group on Integration;
  • COSLA;
  • NHS Boards and local government (through SOLACE);
  • Health and Social Care Partnerships;
  • HR and SP Directors;
  • Medical Directors;
  • Nursing Directors;
  • Chief Social Work Officers;
  • Finance Directors;
  • service managers;
  • workforce Planners in NHS Boards - regional and local - and in local authorities;
  • recruitment managers;
  • service planners, including for acute and elective services, as well as representatives from local cancer planning groups and other condition-specific groups (such as the National Advisory Committee on Stroke);
  • clinicians and health and social care professionals;
  • NHS Education in Scotland, Scottish Social Services Council and other regulatory and educational interests;
  • the Royal Colleges; and
  • social care employer representatives bodies - the Coalition of Care Providers in Scotland, Scottish Care and others.

31. We will communicate with the groups outlined above in various ways, including:

  • tapping into planned meetings of existing committees, boards and other gatherings as appropriate, rather than setting up new structures;
  • assessing whether 'roadshow'-type events - with regional/board variations taking account of local issues - may be useful;
  • holding specific small events or workshops - informal and flexible, with few attendees but lively discussion;
  • organising more formal meetings, with presentations followed by discussion; and
  • facilitated discussion, at events such as Strengthening the Links.


Back to top