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ISD Scotland better information, better decisions, better health



NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland

Frequently Asked Questions

How often is workforce information published?
What information is published?
What is Agenda for Change?
What are the data sources for workforce information?
What job roles are found in each of the staff groups?
Where can I find information on historic data?
Is there a glossary of terms available?

How often is workforce information published?

Workforce information is published on a quarterly basis in June, September, December and March. Each quarter published relates to data extracted from SWISS at 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December respectively.

Full publication dates can be found on the Publication Timetable page

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What information is published?

A core set of workforce information is published each quarter:

  • Staff in post by various categories, for example, age, gender, Agenda for Change band.
  • Vacancies for nursing and midwifery staff, allied health professional staff and consultants.
  • Turnover

Additions to that core information set are:

  • Staff governance data on sickness absence and equality and diversity is published annually in June.
  • Use of agency and bank nursing and midwifery staff is also published annually in June.
  • Nursing and midwifery student intakes, numbers in training and progression rates are published annually in December on behalf of NHS Education for Scotland.
  • Pharmacy vacancies published annually in December.

The published data, as found within the ISD website, presents information by AfC job families and sub job families. A list of the job roles within each of these job families can be found here. Figures describe those staff assimilated to these Agenda for change job families, and those staff not yet assimilated but where a staff group has been identified from their current pay scale.

A full list of the data published can be found on the Publication Timetable page

Information on conditions used to extract our data can be found in our variables guide here Download Excel file[20KB].

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What is Agenda for Change?

Agenda for Change, introduced in NHS Scotland in 2006, is the current national NHS pay system, which introduced new pay bands and harmonised terms and conditions for the NHS workforce (excludes medical and dental and some senior managers). It replaces the previous Whitley Council system and is one of the key reform elements of the Pay Modernisation Agenda, focused on the need to deliver more effective patient-centred care, better value for money, and redesign of services. The Agenda for Change system allocates posts to set pay bands, using the Job Evaluation Scheme.

The pay system is designed to:

  • fair pay for non-medical staff based on the principle of 'equal pay for work of equal value'
  • provide better links between pay and career progression using the Knowledge and Skills Framework
  • harmonise terms and conditions of service such as annual  leave, hours and sick pay, and work done in 'unsocial hours'.

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What are the data sources for workforce information?

Staff in Post

The main source of workforce statistics is the Scottish Workforce Information Standard System (SWISS). Workforce information was first captured through SWISS in 2007 for the data as at 30th September 2007. It includes all workforce data with the exception of the medical and dental data.

SWISS holds individual level data for all staff including:

  • Employee information
    • NI number, name, age.
  • Employment information on current post(s)
    • Employer, hours, start date, payscale
  • Absence information
    • Start and end of absence, absence type, and hours lost.
  • Earnings
    • Financial year, pay period, payscale, gross pay, hourly rates.

Data are collected electronically and feeds into the Workforce Information Repository (WIR), either nightly (payroll and web front-end updates) or weekly (HR interface updates).

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Current workforce data sources and output

Current workforce data sources and output


Data Collections

Additional workforce information is routinely collected as it is not readily available via a central system.

  • Vacancy Information
    • Quarterly return for nursing and midwifery staff, allied health professionals and consultants.
    • Annual return for pharmacy staff.
  • Agency nursing and midwifery staff
    • Annual return on hours worked and cost of agency nursing and midwifery staff.
  • Consultant Programmed Activities (PAs)
    • Annual return on number of consultant programmed activities.
  • Student nurse intake and progression rates
    • Information on nurse intake and progression on courses in Scottish Higher Education Institutions are collected by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) annually. This information is published annually on behalf of NES.

A list of historic workforce data sources can be found here.

What job roles are found in each of the staff groups?

A list of the job roles within each of the staff groups can be found hereDownload PDF file[37Kb].

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Where can I find information on historic workforce data?

Information can also be found on our historic data page found hereDownload PDF file[37Kb].

Note that in January 2008, published workforce information changed to reflect the introduction of Agenda for Change (AfC). Historically, NHSScotland workforce information was published in a format based on pay structure, namely Whitley, for the majority of staff.

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Is there a glossary of terms available?

A glossary of terms for workforce statistics can be found hereDownload PDF file[110Kb]

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