Older lady in care home speaking to a carer with a medicines fridge in the background
Resource Type Policy & Legislation


National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan

The overall aim of the Scottish Government's National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan is to support organisations which provide health and social care services to identify, develop and put in place the workforce they need to deliver safe and sustainable services. The Plan is divided into three parts, covering NHS Scotland, social care and primary care services. 

Part 1 of the National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan, covering NHS Scotland, was published in June 2017. Recommendations in Part 1 are set out across six key areas: Governance; Roles; Data; Recruitment and Retention; Guidance; Student and Post-Graduate Training Intakes. These include the establishment of a new National Workforce Planning group, with representation from across health and social care, to oversee the recommendations within the Plan.

Part 2, published in December 2017, provides a framework for improving workforce planning for social care in Scotland.  The document contains seven key areas of recommendation:

  • Integrated workforce data
  • National and local labour market and workforce analysis
  • Workforce planning guidance for partnership working
  • Workforce planning tools
  • Promoting social care and social care settings more widely as a positive career choice
  • Career pathways
  • Training and education

Part 3 sets out how primary care services can respond to the changing and growing needs of the population. The Plan looks at how Multidisciplinary Teams will be strengthened to deliver an enhanced and sustainable workforce and how partners will work to ensure that better quality and more timely data is developed to drive effective local and national workforce planning.

Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019

The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019 provides a statutory basis for the provision of appropriate staffing in health and social care settings, enabling safe and high quality care and improved outcomes for service users. It will do this by ensuring that the right people with the right skills are in the right place at the right time creating better outcomes for patients and service users, and supporting the wellbeing of staff. 

The legislation will: 

  • provide assurance that staffing is appropriate to support high quality care, identify where improvements in quality are required and determine where staffing has impacted on quality of care
  • support an open and honest culture where clinical/professional staff are engaged in relevant processes and informed about decisions relating to staffing requirements
  • enable further improvements in workforce planning by strengthening and enhancing arrangements already in place to support transparency in staffing and employment practice 
  • ensure the clinical voice is heard at all levels by ensuring arrangements are in place to seek and take appropriate clinical advice in making decisions and putting in place arrangements in relation to staffing 

The Scottish Government is in the process of producing statutory guidance to support the legislation.

The Care Inspectorate is currently developing and will recommend to the Scottish Ministers staffing methods for care home services. This work is being done in collaboration with stakeholders and the care home sector. For further information, see the Safe Staffing Project page on The Hub.

Impact of Leaving the EU on Health and Social Care in Scotland

Following the result of the referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union in 2016, the Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee launched an inquiry on the impact of leaving the EU on health and social care in Scotland. The inquiry focused on how potential risks could be mitigated and potential opportunities could be realised. In its final report, the Committee warned that without EU workers, the NHS and social care services would be placed under “extreme pressure”.

In June 2018, the Scottish Government published a study on the Contribution of Non-UK EU Workers in the Social Care Workforce in Scotland. The research provide estimates of the number of non-UK EU workers in adult social care and childcare sub-sectors, as well as insights into the roles and contributions of those workers from the perspective of both employers and the workers. The study estimates the percentage of non-UK EU nationals employed within adult social care and childcare in Scotland at 5.6%.

The UK Government set out its plans for a future immigration system in late 2018. The UK Government plans to introduce a new “single skills-based” immigration system in 2021, ending free movement as the UK leaves the European Union. Given the skill and salary requirements of the new system, there are concerns around how these developments will unfold and what the implications are for the social care environment in Scotland. 

The UK Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, Kevin Foster, wrote to the Migration Advisory Committee to commission an independent review of adult social care and the impact the ending freedom of movement has had on the sector. The review will look at the effect of the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 on the adult social care workforce, skills shortages, visa options for social care workers, long term consequences for the workforce and other relevant issues. The Committee is invited to consult with devolved administrations and is to report findings by the end of April 2022.


Disclosure (Scotland) Act 2020

Key provisions in the Disclosure (Scotland) Act 2020 include:

  • reducing four main levels of disclosure (basic, standard, enhanced and PVG) to two (Level 1 and Level 2), with the ten different types of disclosure certificate offered under the current structure reduced to four
  • a mandatory PVG Scheme for people working with vulnerable groups
  • replacing the concept of ‘doing regulated work’ with a list of core activities giving rise to ‘regulated roles’ that trigger mandatory PVG membership
  • providing clarity on disclosure arrangements for individuals directly employing a PVG scheme member, e.g. personal care
  • providing new referral powers for Police Scotland, councils and integration joint boards.


Useful Links

Further Reading

Self-directed support library

A selection of resources that explain what SDS is, people’s stories, assessment and support planning tools as well as resources to influence commissioning and procurement practice to make SDS truly mainstream across Scotland

National recruitment guidance

Guidance in relation to the recruitment of staff working in social care, early education and childcare and social work settings

Health and Social Care Standards

The Health and Social Care Standards set out what we should expect when using health, social care or social work services in Scotland

Latest adult and health bulletin

A weekly bulletin produced by our policy team providing an update on the key developments in adult social care and health.

Adult & Health Bulletin: 12 - 18 July 2024

Adult & Health Bulletin: 12 - 18 July 2024

Adult & Health Bulletin: 12 - 18 July 2024

Latest children and young people bulletin

A weekly bulletin produced by our policy team providing an update on the key developments concerning children and young people.

Children & Young People Bulletin: 12-18 July 2024

Children & Young People Bulletin: 12-18 July 2024

Children & Young People Bulletin: 12-18 July 2024