Managers have warned that a review of NHS Scotland's workforce must take a long-term view and consider how increases in staffing will be funded.
The Scottish NHS Confederation welcomed Scottish health minister Susan Deacon's announcement of a review of medical staff provision and a nursing 'summit', and called for an imaginative approach.
But its director, Hilary Robertson, cautioned: 'The current pressures on staff recruitment and retention in some parts of the service are well recognised, and initiatives such as the EU working-time directive can only increase these pressures in the future.
'It will be vital for the medical workforce review and the initiatives flowing from the nursing summit to take a long-term view and to consider how increases in staff numbers or changes in working practices will be funded. '
Ms Deacon made the announcement at a meeting of NHS human resources managers in Dunblane last week.
Professor John Temple, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, will lead a fundamental review of medical workforce planning, while the nursing summit aims to bring together nurses, education providers and others to brainstorm on recruitment and retention.
Ms Deacon said: 'The fact that the NHS in Scotland enjoys lower levels of nursing vacancies than the rest of the UK, and that we train more doctors than we can employ are no longer barometers of success.
'We ignore future workforce needs at our peril. We cannot afford to adopt an ostrich approach in Scotland.
'These issues will not - indeed cannot - be solved by staff representatives sitting across the table from government.
'They must be around the table with government and NHS employers. We cannot build morale by talking up problems and talking down the service. '
In an apparent reference to the Royal College of Nursing Scotland's 'Value Nursing' campaign, launched just days before, she said: 'I do not need nursing leaders to remind me of the important role nurses play.
'I see it in every ward, in every hospital and in every health centre I visit. '