NHS strike contingency plans: FOI release

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

Information requested

  1. All copies of documented contingency plans for NHS Health Boards over the strike period
  2. Each date the Health Secretary and Scottish Government engaged with Health Boards specifically on contingency plans.


In response to the information you have requested at point (1) the Scottish Government does not have all of the information you have asked for because some of this information is held by Health Boards. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. You will need to contact individual Health Boards to request copies of documented contingency plans covering Industrial Action (IA). Detailed contingency plans are subject to local negotiation between each Health Board (as the employer) and the Unions that represent NHS members.

On 4th October the Scottish Government published its Health and social care: winter resilience overview 2022 to 2023 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) which sets out the priority actions that are being taken to support winter resilience across the health and social care system. This includes arrangements for a governance system which maintains strategic oversight across health and social care and is designed to recognise and mitigate evolving risks; maintain a flexible response; and enable an effective response to whole system winter pressures. The management of potential risks to service delivery from IA are included as part of this broader approach to monitoring and maintaining NHS resilience throughout the winter period. Further detail on how this governance system operates is set out in Priority Eight of this overview document and includes reference to national oversight and local monitoring arrangements.

The information you have requested at point (2) is provided below.

An initial meeting between Scottish Government officials and representatives from Health Boards to review specific IA contingency planning arrangements was held on 14th October 2022. An IA Operations Resilience Group was established to further develop IA contingency planning arrangements across Health Boards. This group met on 28th October and 18th November. These meetings were attended by Scottish Government officials and representatives from NHS Territorial Boards, Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), NHS 24, and NHS National Support Services Scotland (NSS).

Meetings between Scottish Government officials and SAS to review IA contingency planning arrangements, specific to SAS, were held on the following dates, 14th, 16th, 18th and 22nd November in response to declared action by Unite and GMB, which has currently been suspended.

As part of the national winter resilience oversight arrangements, referenced at (1), the National Response Group (NRG) met on 17th ,23rd and 30th November. While this group considers IA contingency planning, it also has a much broader focus on wider system pressures. This group will continue to meet weekly throughout the winter period.

At the time of writing all of the Unions representing NHS members across Scotland have either suspended, or have yet to declare, specific periods of Industrial Action as their members are currently considering the latest offer from Scottish Government Ministers.

About FOI 

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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