Our Workforce

NHS staff support, treat and care for many thousands of people every day. It is their knowledge and skill that makes the NHS what it is today.

Scotland is fortunate in having a well trained, committed and motivated workforce that is delivering high quality care for patients. Ensuring that staff are well looked after is crucially important in supporting good patient care.

That is why considerable work has taken place over the last ten years in building a new model of partnership working with staff. It has resulted in Scotland becoming one of the only countries in the world to enshrine its relationship with NHS staff in legislation.

The NHS Reform (Scotland) Act of 2004 placed staff governance on an equal footing as clinical and corporate governance. It meant that staff management is seen as being as important as providing safe and effective treatment and balancing the books.

Staff governance relates to how staff are managed in the NHS and how they feel they are managed. Standards have been agreed and set down for NHS organisations which state that staff should be

  • well informed;
  • appropriately trained;
  • included in decisions that affect them;
  • treated fairly and consistently;
  • provided with a safe and improved working environment.

A national staff survey is carried out every two years to help highlight any areas of concern and identify where things are working well. The results from this and from local monitoring and NHS Board action plans are externally audited and submitted to the Scottish Government Health Department.

Another key element in the new structure is the Scottish Partnership Forum and its sub groups made up of representatives from the health department, NHS employers and trade unions. This allows discussion and debate to take place on the way services are planned and managed. Similar partnerships have been set up at a local level by NHS Boards. National guidelines have also been developed on specific employment issues to help ensure that staff are treated in the same way whether they are in Shetland or Stranraer.

This is a major departure from the more traditional form of employment practice which existed in the 1980s and early 1990s. Then, competitive tendering led to widespread inconsistencies in pay and terms and conditions of service for many NHS staff.

The new policy recognises that staff are crucial to the success of the NHS in Scotland. The NHS wants to be seen as an exemplar employer that has the best interests of its workforce – and the wider service – at heart. That is important in helping to continue to attract the best people to provide the high standards of care that everyone wants to see in the NHS.

Clare Brennan
Health Workforce Directorate, Scottish Government

Patient and nurses

Careers in NHSScotland

There's never been a better time to be working in NHSScotland.

Every day, the lives of patients are transformed thanks to the skill and dedication of NHSScotland staff. It takes a lot more than doctors and nurses to keep the NHS going, and as Scotland's largest employer, we employ all kinds of people.

There are many careers and job opportunities to choose from. More details can be found on the NHSScotland careers website.

NHSScotland vacancy search