The Herald Live: Health Summit will take place on Friday, April 5 where our expert panellists will highlight the many challenges faced by Scotland’s healthcare workforce and explore potential solutions.

A line-up of expert panellists from general practice and elderly medicine to junior doctors and social care are set to take part in the Herald’s first ever Health Summit.

The event, sponsored by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) to coincide with the 75th year of the NHS, is set to explore the challenges and possible solutions to the workforce crisis.

Chaired by the Herald’s award-winning Health Correspondent, Helen McArdle, the panel will bring together four leading voices from across the health and care sector.

Dr Hugh Pearson, the deputy chair of the BMA Scottish council, said chronic understaffing is preventing doctors from providing the care they want to patients.

Dr Pearson has been outspoken on social media in highlighting the experiences of junior doctors around pay erosion, workload, and burnout.

He said: “As doctors, our efforts to provide high-quality patient care are undermined every day by chronic short staffing, lengthy elective care waiting lists, outdated technology and delayed discharges stemming from inadequate social care provision.

“Restoring the NHS will require meaningful and broad stakeholder engagement, cross-party consensus, and, perhaps most importantly, an ambitious but honest discussion with the public.

“This seems far away at present, but the Herald Summit provides an opportunity to get a discussion going. Our politicians need the bravery to listen and act.”

Also on the panel will be Dr Donald Macaskill, the CEO of Scottish Care – the umbrella body for private care providers in Scotland.

Dr Macaskill is a frequent contributor to television, radio and press coverage on the stresses facing care homes and home care organisations, particularly in relation to recruitment and retention.

Social care shortages are also seen as one of the biggest factors piling pressure on hospitals as they struggle to discharge elderly and vulnerable patients back into the community.

Dr Macaskill said: “The major challenge facing the health and social care sector in Scotland is workforce recruitment and retention. How do we continue to attract committed and professional staff into a social care sector that remains undervalued and under-resourced.

“When will political leadership recognise the necessity of adopting a whole system approach to health and social care rather than solely focus on the maintenance and future of the NHS in Scotland.”

Lindsey Pope, a professor of medical education at Glasgow University and the head of GP teaching, will bring her expertise as a ‘Deep End’ GP working in Port Glasgow – one of Scotland’s most deprived areas.

It comes as the GP workforce is shrinking in real terms, making it harder for people to see a doctor – a difficulty even more pronounced in poorer areas which tend to have greater needs but fewer GPs per head.

Prof Pope said: “My hope from the summit is that we can hear from a diverse range of perspectives on the biggest challenges facing the NHS today. The reality is that we are in time of constrained resources, with worsening health inequalities and a system struggling more than ever to meet the needs of the Scottish population.

“If we are going to move forward, we can’t be afraid to have brave, respectful and transparent discussions about the difficult decisions we need to make with patients and the public being a key part of that. I hope the summit can be part of shaping that conversation: helping us to decide what to prioritise.

“I look forward to considering how we get the balance right between preventative and reactive care, how investment in technology and innovation can support us to provide better care in the future and underpinning all of that, how we can ensure our workforce feels valued and has the space to innovate and develop the services our patients need for their future health.”

The panel will be rounded off by Dr Conor Maguire, vice-president of the RCPE and a consultant physician specialising in geriatric medicine at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.

Scotland’s ageing population is one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS and its workforce.

Dr Maguire said: “I am looking forward to participating in The Herald’s health summit at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. The NHS in Scotland is under great pressure at present, with increasing waiting lists for procedures and difficulties in recruiting and retaining enough healthcare staff.

“We’re also seeing more people living for longer, which is positive and encouraging, and we must consider how services can adapt to changing population demographics. This summit is an important opportunity for us to discuss these challenges and to think about possible solutions.”

The event will take place at the RCPE in Queen Street, Edinburgh on Friday April 5. Tickets are available online https://newsquest events/health-summit/​.