Health and social care: safe and effective staffing consultation

Consultation on proposals to enshrine safe staffing in law, starting with the nursing and midwifery workload and workforce planning tools.

Executive Summary

Taking a rigorous, evidence based approach to workload and workforce planning is important to ensure safe and effective staffing that reflects patients' care needs and promotes a safe environment for service users and staff.

Scotland has led the rest of the UK in developing and implementing a ground-breaking evidence based approach to nursing and midwifery workload and workforce planning.

A Plan For Scotland: The Scottish Government's Programme For Scotland 2016-17 confirmed the intention to enshrine safe staffing in law, starting with the nursing and midwifery workforce planning tools.

This consultation paper proposes the introduction of legislation that would require organisations providing health and social care to:

  • Apply nationally agreed, evidence based workload and workforce planning methodologies and tools.
  • Ensure that key principles - notably consideration of professional judgement, local context and quality measures - underpin workload and workforce planning and inform staffing decisions.
  • Monitor and report on how they have done this and provide assurance regarding safe and effective staffing.

Proposals are intended to:

  • Strengthen and enhance arrangements already in place to support continuous improvements and transparency in workforce planning and employment practice across Scotland.
  • Enable consideration of service delivery models and service redesign to ensure Scotland's health and social care services meet the needs of the people they serve.
  • Provide assurance - including for patients and staff - that safe and effective staffing is in place to enable the provision of high quality care.
  • Actively foster an open and honest culture where all staff feel safe to raise concerns regarding safe and effective staffing.

The proposals set out in this consultation document focus intentionally on the application of evidence based approaches to nursing and midwifery workload and workforce planning as there is already a validated framework, methodology and suite of planning tools that are mandated for use in NHSScotland as part of Local Delivery Planning. However, the consultation proposes that this approach could be extended to other staff groups and care settings when methodologies are developed.

The document outlines existing approaches to nursing and midwifery workload and workforce planning, within the context of wider duties and arrangements, to ensure high quality care, workforce planning and staff governance; details the proposed requirements on organisations; describes the Scottish Government consultation process; and invites views on a number of issues. A consultation questionnaire, respondent information form and partial Business Regulatory Impact Assessment are provided as Annexes.


Email: Dawn Sungu

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

Back to top