The Herald Live: Health Summit will take place on Friday, April 5 where experts will delve into the challenges faced by Scotland’s healthcare workforce and explore potential resolutions

THE NHS has just turned 75 and the future shape and substance of the country’s health provision has never seemed more uncertain.

Recruitment and retention problems which were already worsening over the past decade have been exacerbated by pandemic-related burnout, falling real-terms pay, and growing demand on the frontline workers who remain.

For many patients, this has meant longer waiting times for operations, difficulty securing a GP appointment, or feeling forced to go private for procedures – such as dentistry – that were once accessible on the NHS.

On April 5, the Herald will host its first ever Health Summit event as we shine a spotlight on the workforce challenges currently faced by the NHS in Scotland – and the potential solutions.

The Herald Live: Health Summit – Shaping the Future of Healthcare Together will be sponsored and hosted by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh at their headquarters in Scotland’s capital city.

Professor Andrew Elder, president of the RCPE said: “The College is pleased to co-sponsor this important workforce summit with the Herald, which will take place at our buildings on Queen Street, Edinburgh.

“While we welcome recent steps taken in Scotland to expand the number of trainee doctor posts, the reality is that we don’t have enough doctors right now to cope with current demand.

“We’re in the midst of a workforce crisis.

“It takes 16 years, on average, to train our most senior doctors – NHS consultants – so it is vital that the profession is given a platform to highlight the current challenges – and of course, solutions to immediate gaps in the workforce.

“The Herald’s summit on 5 April is an important opportunity for healthcare workers, policy makers and the third sector to come together and understand how to tackle workforce shortages, rota gaps, low staff morale and professional burnout.”

Tickets are now on sale for the event which will be chaired by the Herald’s award-winning Health Correspondent Helen McArdle alongside a panel of industry experts and healthcare professionals.
Confirmed speakers include Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care; Professor Lindsey Pope, a ‘Deep End’ GP based in Port Glasgow and professor of medical education at the University of Glasgow and Dr Conor Maguire, a consultant physician at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh and vice-president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

The event will combine a panel discussion format and audience Q&A’s as we delve into some of the most pressing issues facing the health and care sector, and ask how to fix them.

Audience participation and dialogue will be a be a vital part of the day as we seek to debate what the future of the NHS in Scotland should be, and how we get there.

Ms McArdle said: “There is no doubt that staffing shortages are one of the number one concerns that I hear from workers on the frontline, and the impact that is having for patients is clear.

“Many of the biggest problems the NHS currently faces boil down to a workforce that isn’t growing fast enough to keep pace with an ageing population.

“So far, Scotland has avoided industrial action by nurses and doctors seen in other parts of the UK but there is no guarantee that that threat is resolved for good. A lot of staff feel demoralised and unable to provide the kind of care they want for their patients.

“This applies across the board, from nurses run ragged on hospital wards and overwhelmed A&E departments, to the GP surgeries where partners are quitting or dental practices going private because a growing number of dentists feel the NHS model of care no longer works.

“Retention is a huge part of the issue. Nurses are leaving in record numbers, some experienced consultants have felt forced to retire early due to pension taxes, and many doctors know they could get better pay and conditions working overseas.

“Meanwhile, there are questions about whether we are training enough doctors and nurses in the first place, and lots of controversy over plans to expand the numbers of non-medically qualified physician associates for example.

“This event could not be more timely.”

Tickets to the inaugural Herald Live: Health Summit on Friday, April 5 at The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh can be purchased online at: