RCN urges Welsh assembly to vote for safe staffing bill later today

RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly calls on assembly members to enshrine safe staffing levels in law ahead of a vote on the issue in the Welsh assembly later today

RCN Wales has warned that lives are being put at risk by a lack of legislation setting out safe nurse staffing levels.

Urging Welsh assembly members to vote in favour of the Safe Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill later today, RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly said: 'The bill will ensure better patient care and better outcomes. The safety of patients in Wales should not be ignored.'

Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams drew up the bill, which would ensure healthcare providers maintain safe nurse-to-patient ratios at all times in adult inpatient wards in acute hospitals, as well as improving working conditions for nursing staff. It was introduced to the assembly in December and has since been debated by the health and social care committee. In May the committee published a report backing the the general principles of the legislation, while making 19 recommendations for revising the bill to avoid 'unintended consequences'.

The committee's report has called for changes in the bill that would reduce the risk of staff being diverted from one healthcare setting to another to ensure staffing elsewhere. It also raised concerns about nurse shortages and said time should be allowed to recruit more nurses to meet legislative requirements.

Today the full assembly will vote on whether to to accept the general principles of the bill. If passed, it will proceed to the next legislative stage where any proposed amendments will be considered in detail by the health and social care committee.

Professor Donnelly said: 'Nurses in Wales have spoken personally to family, friends and neighbours, in support of this bill and many of them have been surprised to find that we do not have this legislation already in the NHS in Wales. Without a law like this our lives and the lives of those we care about are being put at risk.'

Professor Donnelly added: 'The RCN is asking all assembly members to vote yes to support the bill.'

To watch the debate at 3pm go to the website

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