The Herald Live: Health Summit will take place on Friday, April 5 where our expert panellists will highlight the many challenges faced by the Scottish health sector

How are workforce shortages impacting on the health service, and how might we resolve these in the months and years ahead?

These are the issues that we are looking forward to exploring as the Herald hosts its first ever Health Summit on Friday April 5.

Sponsored by the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh (RCPE) and chaired by the Herald's award-winning health correspondent, Helen McArdle, the event will bring together expert perspectives from general practice and geriatrics to junior doctors and social care.

It comes at a time when there are record numbers of staff working within NHS Scotland and yet "productivity" - outpatient appointments, planned procedures, emergency admissions - continues to lag behind pre-pandemic levels.

What is holding the NHS recovery back? How much of a problem is staff sickness absence, stress and burnout? To what extent are failing NHS buildings, bed shortages, and faulty or outdated equipment preventing healthcare staff from delivering the care they want for patients?

Demand for private healthcare has been growing rapidly in Scotland, but most of the doctors working privately are also employed by the NHS. Should the private sector pay some sort of stipend back to the health service in recognition for the years the NHS invested in their training?

Are we really seeing an increase in doctors and nurses leaving the NHS to work abroad, and how many of them are likely to return? Should UK-trained medical graduates be tied to the NHS for a minimum period after they qualify to reduce this "brain drain"? How important is pay to recruitment and retention of healthcare staff, and how does Scotland compare to the rest of the UK and the western world?

Are physicians associates a useful addition to the NHS workforce, or a potential risk?

Should we be prioritising a larger share of our health and care spending towards primary care, social care, and public health, rather than acute hospitals? Scotland's GP workforce is shrinking in real terms and practices are closing, while the consultant workforce has increased by 31% since 2014. Meanwhile, a lack of social care available in the community is the major factor leading to roughly 14% of hospital beds being occupied at any one time by a patient ready to leave, with knock-on effects for A&E and planned admissions.

These are just a few of the questions worth answering, and we hope you can join us for debate, discussion, and a Q&A with our panellists.

Dr Donald Macaskill, CEO of Scottish Care, said: "I am very much looking forward to the opportunity for a whole system discussion on the challenges facing both social care and the NHS in Scotland, not least of which is workforce."

Dr Hugh Pearson, deputy chair of the BMA's Scottish council, said: "The public feels let down by the NHS, and for good reason.

"Longer waiting times, delays to life-saving treatment and overcrowded, understaffed wards are routine.

"The NHS faces rising demands from an aging and medically complex population, worsened by deficiencies in broader UK public health policies, increasing socio-economic disparities, and austerity measures affecting education, housing and social services.

"The route forward is complex, but mere tinkering around the edges of this crisis will not suffice.

"We need a bold vision for renewal, leveraging our leading universities, advanced technology and dedicated healthcare professionals to lead the way.

"We require a government committed to stable and ambitious investment, prioritising health across all departments and focusing on workforce planning, public health, social care, community services and general practice.

"I am looking forward to engaging with The Herald Health Summit to discuss the practical route forward to restoring the NHS as a global model of taxpayer funded healthcare, with the public as key participants."

Dr Lindsey Pope, a Deep End GP and professor of medical education at Glasgow University, said: "I hope that the summit will facilitate discussions on how we better work together to address the most challenging time for health and social care since I qualified.

"What do we need to start doing differently? What do we need to stop doing? And how do we make the best use of the resources we have? The summit is a great opportunity for creativity and debate."

The panel will also include Dr Conor Maguire, a consultant geriatrician and vice president of the RCPE.

The event, which includes a morning reception with tea and coffee and refreshments, will take place at the RCPE headquarters in Edinburgh.

Tickets are on sale now with a discount available to Herald subscribers: