14. Workforce and facilities
We have worked closely with workforce organisations including Health Boards, NHS Education for Scotland (NES), NHS National Services Scotland (NSS), and PHS, to build a workforce to successfully meet the increased demands of the flu and ongoing COVID-19 vaccination programme. This workforce has drawn from many health professions and volunteer organisations, including the military and the British Red Cross, and their tireless work and support is an exemplar of national effort in a time of crisis.
As at 28 September 2021, there were over 14,800 vaccinators recorded as using the national Vaccination Management Tool. However, we know that does not include everyone as there are some vaccinations taking place outwith this tool.
We have established a National Volunteer Coordination Hub, which is being overseen by the British Red Cross. The Hub has been operating since 1 February 2021 and to date has involved in excess of 4,800 volunteers providing more than 38,000 hours of volunteering activity to the vaccination programme. The Hub will continue to provide this volunteer support to the vaccination plans for autumn and winter.
As society re-opens and health services remobilise, we recognise there is a need to develop a long-term sustainable vaccination workforce, not just to deliver any future COVID-19 programme, but all immunisations. To meet this demand, we have taken steps to facilitate further recruitment by Health Boards, including the development of the Healthcare Support Worker role. Following the successful development of the NES and PHS induction programme to support newly recruited Health and Social Care Workers with less than two years' experience, we have created a National Job Description, and developed the National Framework and Protocol to facilitate further recruitment of Health and Social Care Workers, while broadening the role which they can fulfil. This allows for the recruitment of staff that are new to health, bolstering the workforce at large, who can be employed not only to meet the demands of the pandemic, but other ongoing immunisation programmes and health services as part of a sustainable workforce. We are taking steps to streamline the induction process which will speed up the recruitment of staff to the programme.
Through a variety of working groups and hosting a webinar, we have shared ideas with Health Boards about a variety of roles that Health and Social Care Workers can undertake when the demand for vaccinations is reduced. By diversifying and building in flexibility to these roles, it helps sustain this workforce.
Whilst every effort is made to build a sustainable vaccination workforce, it is clear that COVID-19 is unpredictable, and as we move into the autumn/winter, we remain ready to take steps to mitigate any risk to the programme delivery. This includes liaising with our military colleagues who, should the need arise, can provide surge capacity at short notice, as they have done so successfully before.
Appropriate staff safety and security training has been provided for vaccination centre staff.