arrow_up-blue blog branches consultations events facebook-icon facebook-icon2 factsheet forum-icon forum hands key link location lock mail measure menu_plus news pdf pdf2 phone policies publications related search share subjectguide twitter-icon word instagram-icon youtube-icon

Staffing for safe and effective care

The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill is being debated at the Scottish Parliament. This is an opportunity to get staffing levels right so that patients always receive safe and effective care.

The Health and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament published its stage 1 report on the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) bill in November.
On 6th December, the Scottish Parliament voted in favour of the general principles of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) bill. The motion on the stage 1 debate was passed unopposed.
The Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee considered the bill during stage 2 proceedings which ran on 29th January and 5th February. Just over 130 amendments were tabled and debated at stage 2. Many changes were made to the bill as a result, including new sections being added on the non-caseload holding status of senior charge nurses and ensuring that staff have time for CPD.
You can find the revised bill here.
The final Parliamentary stage is stage 3. You can find out more about how laws are made here.

Read our member briefing on the Bill so far

Read our briefing for RCN members on what happened during Stage 2 and what's next for the Bill

We need your support

Email your MSPs today to let them know how important it is that this legislation makes a real difference and to ask them to represent you in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament during the final debate.
Contact your MSP

Contact your MSP

using our automated tool

Email now
In 2017 RCN members spoke out about the staffing levels on their last shift in a 30,000 strong survey. More than half, 55 per cent, of those who took part said shifts fall short of planned staffing levels; and 53 per cent said that the shortage is compromising the care given to patients. 
The results of our survey are not surprising when you consider that the vacancy rate for the NHS in Scotland reached a record high (5.3%) in June 2018 and while that dropped to 4.8% in September the same year, one in 20 posts (over 3,000) remain vacant.  In Scotland’s care homes the situation is worse with Scottish Care estimating the nursing vacancy rate is 20%.
The reality of these figures means that nurses and health care support workers - whether in hospitals, community teams, or nursing homes - are struggling, day in and day out, to give care to patients. It is demoralising for nursing staff and distressing for patients.

Find out more about the RCN view

Request a poster

Email us at and we will send out copies of the poster to you

Guest blogs

Read views and opinions on aspects of staffing for safe and effective care:

Positive Outcomes Theme

Positive outcomes

Positive outcomes for people and staff must be at the heart of decision making.
Staff To Care Theme

Staff to care for people across Scotland

This legislation is a starting point. Work must continue to ensure that Scotland has the health and care staff it needs across nursing and other disciplines. The Scottish Government must take responsibility for ensuring a supply of nursing staff that meets demand.

Informed decision making

All decisions about staffing for nursing teams must be based on data and evidence, which is robust, up to date, and used appropriately.
Decision Making Theme

Responsibility, accountability, real time action and long term planning

Organisations must take responsibility for providing the right number of nursing staff. Staff should have the right knowledge, skills and experience and be deployed in the right place and at the right time to provide safe, high quality care to patients.
Accountability Theme

Professional Voice Theme

A strong professional voice

Nursing leaders, whether at a ward, team or governance level, should be able to exercise their professional judgement about whether there are the right number of nursing staff with the right knowledge, skills and experience, in the right place and at the right time.
Scrutiny & Sanction Theme

Scrutiny and sanction

There must be public scrutiny of staffing for safe and effective care and sanction if the law is not met.

Scottish legislation on safe staffing

Find out about the Scottish Government consultation, what is happening across the UK and how you can make your voice heard on safe staffing.

Read more

Influencing on your behalf

Influencing Scottish health and social care policy and practice

Speak out

Why not spread the word and share the 'Ask for more' campaign with your followers?

Twitter Logo

Tweet your support


Visit Twitter

If you're showing your support in a post on Facebook or by sharing a photo when you spot  one of our posters on Instagram  - don't forget to use our hashtag #askformore and include a link to this page

Find out more about what the RCN has been doing

If you want to know more about the RCN's work on staffing for safe and effective care you can contact the team at


Page last updated - 06/03/2019