'Historic' staffing bill wins support of Welsh Assembly

RCN Wales says new law will 'empower' nurses to control staff numbers 

Wales is close to becoming the first country in the UK to legally enforce the provision of sufficient nurse numbers.

The Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill passed its third stage in the Welsh Assembly last night.

Its fourth and final stage will take place next week when members vote on whether to approve its entry into law.

The bill seeks to ensure there is an adequate number of nurses to meet the needs of patients on all hospital wards.

Welsh liberal democrat leader Kirsty Williams introduced the private members' bill in 2014, and she originally envisioned it having the word ‘safe’ at the beginning of its title.

However, the Labour-controlled assembly successfully passed an amendment to remove the word ‘safe’ as it was deemed impossible to define in a legal sense.

An attempt by Conservative members to restore it during the debate last night was unsuccessful.

It was the first time the entire assembly had the chance to discuss and amend the bill. Previously, it had only been scrutinised by smaller committees.

Regardless of the loss of the word ‘safe’, Ms Williams said she was delighted to see her efforts being rewarded, and she paid tribute to RCN Wales and the public for supporting the bill.

RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly hailed the cross-party support, calling it a 'historic step to improving patient care' that will 'empower registered nurses to drive staffing decisions in our hospitals'.

RCN Welsh Board chair Gaynor Jones said: ‘Nurses have always acknowledged and continue to emphasise that staffing issues are an ongoing concern, one that influences the safety of the patient and the nurse.’

The bill faces its final stage next Wednesday.


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