The Scottish Government has published its much-anticipated integrated workforce plan for health and social care – the first of its kind in the UK.
As part of this plan the government has committed to creating 120 more pharmacists to work in primary care settings by increasing pre-registration training places by 40 each year over the next three years.
Created in partnership with COSLA – the representative body for Scotland’s local authorities – the plan sets out how the Scottish Government intends to meet demand for both health and social care services that is rising to unprecedented levels.
Published days after figures were released revealing “scandalous [health] inequalities”, the plan promises action on a number of fronts, including mental health, primary care and stroke services.
On mental health, a current shortfall in mental health officers across the country is to be addressed by funding the equivalent of an additional 55 full time officers by 2022-23 – an 8.6% increase.
Supporting the appointment of an additional 60 clinical psychologists is also among the key commitments – something the government says will be done by increasing the training programme intake by ten students per year for the next three years and maintaining current intake levels for masters programmes.
To tackle the third most common cause of death and the most common cause of severe physical disability amongst adults in Scotland, a new national thrombectomy service is promised for victims of stroke that government says should start seeing its first patients by the end of next year.
In order to continue shifting the balance of care from hospital to home and community settings, 225 more advanced musculoskeletal practitioners are pledged, alongside 375 additional district nurses over the next five years.
Student nursing intake is also to increase for the eighth consecutive year, up by 5%, creating 4,206 places for 2020-21.
“This is the UK’s first integrated health and social care workforce plan and it will be invaluable in helping us to anticipate and respond to the changing and growing demand faced by our health and social care services,” says health secretary Jeane Freeman.
“One key example of this is our commitment to create a national thrombectomy service to treat stroke victims – a vital step in the planning and delivery of a comprehensive stroke service for Scotland.
“We have record numbers working across our health and social care services – with NHS staffing levels up 11.3% since 2006 and the social care workforce at its highest level since reports began.
“As this plan outlines, the threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit remains, and as a responsible government we will continue to do all we can to protect our health and social care services.”
The government says it will also aim to build up ‘a national picture of workforce planning capacity, methodology and capability’ among local authorities and health and social care partnerships to support workforce planning for social care services.
The third and independent social care sectors are to be provided ‘additional support in 2019-21 to enable their contributions to the developments in workforce planning to be supported through this workforce plan’.
COSLA health and social care spokesperson Councillor Stuart Currie said his organisation was pleased to support the plan’s publication:
“Workforce planning is essential to ensure that Scotland’s people receive the right care, by the right people, at the right time and in the right place.
“We look forward to continued cross-sectoral work, to realise this plan’s ambition and to further develop capacity and capability for workforce planning in social care and beyond, for the benefit of our citizens’ health and wellbeing.”
Matt Barclay Director of Operations at Community Pharmacy Scotland commented:
‘We are supportive of workforce planning with regards to Health service provision, it is clearly important to understand workforce when planning services. The plan is a challenge for us to unpick in terms of the implications from the community pharmacy workforce as it tends to refer to NHS employed workforce for obvious reasons.
“We have highlighted recent workforce pressures being created through the policy drive around the GP contract in Scotland but are engaging with Government and Health Board colleagues to ensure awareness of this pressure is increased and potentially addressed. The workforce plan should be another useful publication to provide context and background for further discussions.’
Jonathan Burton, Chair of the Scottish Pharmacy Board, said:
“Pharmacists are at the very forefront of healthcare, supporting patients with their medicines and advising on health and lifestyle issues. The accessibility and unique medicines expertise of pharmacists is in great demand across the health service in Scotland. We therefore very much welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to increasing the number of pre-registration training places.
“It is vitally important that the overall workforce plan for pharmacy, which now includes increasing the number of pharmacists in primary care, also actively supports hospital and community pharmacy services. We would like to see a national campaign to encourage young people into the pharmacy profession via our MPharm courses in order to help achieve these commitments.”