Concerns have been raised about how Scottish NHS boards could decide safe staffing levels. According to Professor Derek Bell OBE, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, some aspects of Scottish Government’s Safe Staffing Bill should be strengthened.

Professor Bell has warned that in its current form, the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill fails to set out what factors NHS boards must consider when deciding if Scotland’s hospitals are “appropriately” staffed. He has offered the Scottish Government his organisation’s expertise and support to help improve the Bill as it stands.

Care services, on the other hand, have been given clear guidance under the legislation, and boards must consider the size of the care service, the care services’ aims and objectives, and the numbers and needs of service users. It is this clarity which is missing from the Scottish Government’s plans for health boards.

Professor Bell also said that unless the Scottish Government urgently resolve the many medical rota gaps at trainee and consultant level and address trainee turnover rates, safe staffing levels will remain a dream rather than a reality. He underlined that the medical workforce gap is an issue affecting all four nations of the UK.

Professor Bell added:

“The medical workforce faces a number of challenges, and although the College welcomes the introduction of this Bill, legislation alone will not solve the current shortage of medical trainees and consultants. The Scottish Parliament cannot legislate doctors into existence.

“We acknowledge that tackling this shortage involves a wide range of stakeholders and a variety of issues, and we have for example urged the UK Government to allow increased overseas recruitment in a structured way to support recruitment and training.

“The College remains committed to working with the Scottish Government and healthcare partners throughout the legislative process, to ensure that Safe Staffing Bill is workable and improves outcomes in the Scottish NHS. It’s vital that we have safe and sustainable staffing levels within hospital settings, to ensure that appropriate care is provided for patients – and we are keen to be part of this conversation.”



1. A full write up can be found in The National here:

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658