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Welsh health committee votes in favour of safer nurse staffing bill

A bill which will introduce safer nurse staffing levels in Wales has moved to the next legislative stage following a vote by the health and social care committee

Wales is one step closer to becoming the first country in the UK with a legal duty on safe nurse staffing levels. 

On Wednesday (25 November) members of the National Assembly for Wales’ health and social care committee voted in favour of amendments to the bill and it will now progress to the next legislative stage.

The committee voted to remove the word ‘safe’ from the title of the private members’ bill, to the disappointment of Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, who made the proposal in December 2013. 

Ms Williams said: ‘While this won’t directly affect the outcomes of the bill, the removal of the word is a missed opportunity to symbolically say what the intentions of the bill are.’

She told Nursing Standard earlier this month that it was not her intention to legislate for a set staff-to-patient ratio to which health boards would be forced to sign up.

She said the bill will provide a legal requirement for hospitals in Wales ‘to have an appropriate number of nurses at any given time’. 

Following the committee’s vote on Wednesday, she said: ‘This has been a long journey, but we are a step closer towards safe staffing levels in all of our hospitals.' 

RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly said: ‘The delivery of high quality patient care depends on the skills and experiences of nurses delivered in a safe environment with safe nursing numbers. 

‘This bill is the first of its kind in the UK and the key issue is that patients in Wales will benefit tremendously if this law is passed. The RCN in Wales will continue to campaign for this law to protect patient care throughout the next phase.’

 

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