News

RCN praises staffing 'victory' for Welsh health service

Welsh Assembly members approve bill on minimum nurse numbers 

Royal approval is all that stands in the way of Wales becoming the first country in the UK to mandate nurse levels in its hospitals.

Yesterday the Welsh Assembly voted to approve the passage of The Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill.

The proposed law has been backed by RCN Wales and also championed by the college as a whole.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies called the vote a victory for the health service in Wales. ‘It means that the importance of having the right numbers of nursing staff to provide proper care to every patient will be enshrined in law,' she said.

‘This is the first legislation of its kind in Europe, and an example of what front line healthcare staff and politicians can achieve when they work together in the interests of patients.’

The vote was the fourth and final stage of a process

Royal approval is all that stands in the way of Wales becoming the first country in the UK to mandate nurse levels in its hospitals.

Yesterday the Welsh Assembly voted to approve the passage of The Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill.

The proposed law has been backed by RCN Wales and also championed by the college as a whole.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies called the vote a victory for the health service in Wales. ‘It means that the importance of having the right numbers of nursing staff to provide proper care to every patient will be enshrined in law,' she said. 

‘This is the first legislation of its kind in Europe, and an example of what front line healthcare staff and politicians can achieve when they work together in the interests of patients.’

The vote was the fourth and final stage of a process that began in 2014 when the bill was proposed by Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams. 

She originally used the word ‘safe’ in the bill's title. However, the Labour-controlled assembly removed it during stage two of the bill's reading in June last year because achieving a legal definition of 'safe' was deemed impossible.

The bill applies to acute hospitals only and seeks to ensure an adequate number of ward nurses to meet the needs of patients at all times.

The law will require local health boards, and English NHS trusts with services in Wales, to calculate and agree minimum nurse staffing levels. They will also have to provide indicators of where failure to provide a sufficient number of nurses has compromised patient care in the past.

Any staff member, minister or member of the public will have the right to instigate legal action if they have reason to believe that the agreed levels of nurse staffing are not being maintained.

Royal assent for the bill is expected next month.

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Standard
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?