Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019 statutory guidance: consultation

Closed 19 Sep 2023

Opened 22 Jun 2023


We want to hear your views on the Statutory Guidance that will be issued by the Scottish Ministers to accompany the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019. Specifically, we would like to hear whether the guidance is clear and readable and enables you to understand the duties placed on relevant organisations by the Act. 

About the Act

The requirements of the Act will take effect from April 2024. The aims of the Act are to enable safe and high quality care and improved outcomes for people experiencing health care or care services through the provision of appropriate staffing. This requires the right people, in the right place, with the right skills, at the right time.

The Act places duties on:

  • Health Boards;
  • Special Health Boards providing direct patient care (i.e. the State Hospital, NHS24, Scottish Ambulance Service and the National Waiting Times Centre);
  • NHS National Services Scotland (NHS NSS, which is referred to in the Act as "the Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service");
  • local authorities;
  • integration authorities;
  • care service providers;
  • Healthcare Improvement Scotland;
  • the Care Inspectorate (referred to in the Act as "Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland"); and
  • the Scottish Ministers.

Impact on staffing and staff training

Organisations providing health care and care services will have to ensure appropriate staffing and staff training. Those providing health care services also have duties including around:

  • assessing staffing in real-time;
  • identifying, mitigating and escalating risks;
  • seeking clinical advice on staffing;
  • ensuring adequate time is given to clinical leaders for staffing responsibilities; and
  • reporting the use of high-cost agency workers.

The common staffing method will have to be followed for specific types of health care, provided in specific locations and by specific employees. Organisations will have to consider the need for appropriate staffing when planning or securing health care or care services from third parties and will also have various reporting requirements. 

Compliance with the Act

Healthcare Improvement Scotland will be responsible for monitoring compliance with the Act in the health care sector, along with monitoring and reviewing the common staffing method and staffing tools. The Care Inspectorate may also develop staffing methods for use in the care sector and any staffing method developed must include the use of staffing level tools. The Scottish Ministers can put in place a legal requirement for specified types of care service providers to use such a staffing method. 

The statutory guidance

The draft Statutory Guidance has been prepared by various working groups comprising representatives from the Scottish Government and external stakeholders, including Health Boards, Special Health Boards, NHS NSS, local authorities, integration authorities, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, the Care Inspectorate, professional bodies, trade unions and professional regulatory bodies. We are grateful for their time and input. We would now like to widen our consultation as it is important that all those with an interest in health care and/or care services can provide their opinions prior to the guidance being finalised.

Read the consultation paper 

Why your views matter

Once the Act comes fully into force, relevant organisations will have to comply with the requirements and, in doing so, must have regard to the statutory guidance issued by the Scottish Ministers. It is therefore important that the guidance is clear, understandable, user-friendly, and provides practical information on what organisations need to do. 

What happens next

Thank you for all your responses to the consultation. Following consideration of the responses and any associated revisions, the Statutory Guidance will be published. The guidance will come into force on 01 April 2024.


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