Health and social care: winter overview 2021 to 2022

Outlines the range of actions we are taking to support our health and social sector care throughout the winter period.

Supporting our staff to deliver high quality care, in the right place, at the right time

Expanding the Workforce

Whilst overall workforce numbers in the NHS have never been higher, increased demand for Health and Social Care services is creating significant workforce capacity challenges. The consequences are seen beyond hospital or GP services and affect all areas of health and social care, including care provided at home. To support our health and social care partners effectively over the winter period, we are therefore:

How we Will Deliver This

  • Investing in new recruitment and improved recruitment processes – so that health and social care employers have the staff they need to prioritise and continue running safe and high quality services – and deliver these where and when they are most needed.
  • Bringing in new workforce capacity to support clinical services – so that health and social care services can continue to provide the safe, timely, and effective care that everyone in Scotland expects and deserves.
  • Putting in place a range of targeted workforce measures to help proactively manage current system pressures, working closely with NHS Scotland, local authorities and health and social care partnerships.
  • Reduce avoidable delays to patient discharge in hospitals, providing increased access to assessment and bridging care, and providing added support to care homes.
  • Ensure people have the most effective care according to changing needs
  • Provide rapid responses, where it is right for these to be managed in people’s communities – alleviating pressure on GPs and the Scottish Ambulance Service.


  • Providing £1 million of in-year funding across NHS Scotland to build capacity within recruitment teams, alongside an offer by national health boards to provide mutual-aid to territorial boards to manage new volume recruitment.
  • Providing up to £15 million investment for territorial NHS Boards to recruit 1,000 Agenda for Change (AfC) staff at bands 2, 3, and 4 over the next 3 to 4 months.
  • We have approved funding to extend the my jobs Scotland recruitment website until March 2022 to all third and independent sector organisations, which will mean that all social care vacancies can be advertised at no additional cost to providers on one platform.
  • Making funds available to Health and Social Care Partnerships to accelerate recruitment of multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) to support general practices.
  • Additional funding of £48 million will be made available to enable employers to provide an uplift to the hourly rate of pay for staff offering Direct Care within Adult Social Care. This means the hourly rate will rise to a minimum £10.02 per hour.
  • Encouraging registrants on the professional regulators’ emergency COVID-19 registers to return to the workforce.
  • Providing national marketing support for recruitment into band 5 posts across the territorial Health Boards, notably for nurses providing care at home.
  • Providing new recurring funding of £1 million to develop capacity within recruitment teams to support international recruitment – recognising the additional workload this will bring to Boards.
  • Asking NHS Boards nationally to recruit at least 200 registered nurses from overseas by March 2022.
  • Making a national offer to healthcare students – including nursing, midwifery, AHP students and undergraduate medics – of three or six month Less Than Full Time Fixed Term Contracts, with their nearest NHS Board.
  • We are investing an additional £20 million covering the remainder of this financial year to establish new MDTs and strengthen existing ones.

Supporting the health and wellbeing of our staff

Our NHS staff have been under considerable pressure for many months. They came into this pandemic as a tough winter was coming to an end, and have been working tirelessly since then. We are already investing £8 million to provide enhanced wellbeing support locally and nationally. As we now face another challenging winter we will further build on the work already delivered, which is why we have provided a further £4 million to support the wellbeing of the NHS workforce this winter.

We have listened closely and carefully to staff and their representative bodies to understand where the pressures are, and what actions can be taken to mitigate the resulting impacts on staff. Now, more than ever, it is critical that staff look after their wellbeing and take the rest breaks and leave to which they are entitled, as well as being given time to access national and local wellbeing resources at work.

The National Wellbeing Hub provides a range of self-care and wellbeing resources for all staff, unpaid carers, volunteers and their families to enhance personal resilience, and signposts to relevant mental health and support services. This includes the Workforce Specialist Service – which offers confidential mental health assessment and treatment for regulated health and social care professionals; digital apps to help with stress, anxiety and sleep; and online ‘Coaching for Wellbeing’. A National Wellbeing Helpline for the health and social care workforce (0800 111 4191) provides a compassionate and empathic listening service on a 24/7 basis, as well as advice, signposting and onward referral to local services if required and with a caller’s consent.

Practical measures such as providing food and drink on shift

We will work with partners to investigate what further support can be provided to staff working on the frontline (food, drink, transport etc.).

Well rested staff who are able to provide outstanding care

We will invest in further local rest and break facilities.

We will work closely with the Regulatory and Professional Bodies to support staff working under extreme pressure and in difficult circumstances.

Psychological support for staff during this challenging period

We will ensure that the resources that are already in operation are understood and well signposted, and encourage staff to take breaks and to access support.

We will provide materials to support staff dealing with abusive and aggressive behaviour and a national marketing campaign making the public aware that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

Healthy staff with access to wellbeing support

We will invest a range of emotional supports for our staff over the winter period.



Back to top