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'Crunch time' for Wales safe nurse staffing bill

RCN Wales wants Welsh Assembly members to support new law

Members of the Welsh Assembly are being urged to vote tomorrow for the introduction of the UK’s first law on safe nurse staffing.

The Safe Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill has already passed through two of the four stages necessary to make it legislation, and faces its third stage of voting tomorrow.

It was proposed by Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams in December 2014.

The assembly will consider the bill tomorrow ahead of the fourth stage where the question of whether to make it law is posed and voted on.

The principle of the bill and funding the cost of its introduction as a law have already been negotiated successfully, and the bill was scrutinised by the country’s health and social care committee in June last year.

Since then the bill has been viewed by a number of ministers, several of whom have suggested amendments. These include several from Ms Williams, such as seeking to increase the frequency with which health boards are required to report to ministers on staffing levels, from every three years to every year.

Conservative assembly member Darren Millar wants to introduce financial penalties for health boards that fail to comply with the law, as well as a whistleblowing clause that requires staff to report health boards whom they suspect are failing in their duties.

RCN Wales has backed the bill and made safe nurse staffing a key part of its Time to Care manifesto ahead of assembly elections this year.

It said evidence shows that when nursing levels fall to an unsafe point, stays in hospital lengthen and falls, infections and other complications increase.

RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly said the bill is facing a ‘crunch time’.

She added: ‘(Tomorrow) is the opportunity for assembly members to demonstrate their unequivocal support for the bill to ensure that neither nurses nor patients are put at risk when staffing levels fall below what is considered safe.’

 

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