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Nurses meet to start planning campaign for a safe staffing law

RCN members in England begin latest move to lobby government over nurse numbers

RCN members in England begin latest move to lobby government over nurse numbers


The nurses met at the RCN's London headquarters to start planning their campaign.

The fight for a safe staffing law in England’s NHS began in earnest today as nurses gathered to shape a campaign for the profession.

Nurses from the nine English regions joined RCN staff at the college's London headquarters to begin the first steps of the campaign, which will aim to have safe staffing enshrined in law. 

RCN president Anne Marie Rafferty said the campaign will be one of the most important in the college's history. 

Today's meeting relates to England but is part of a wider aim to ensure all four UK nations have legislation that ensures sufficient nurses with the right skills mix are in place to meet patients' needs. 

The picture across the UK

England and Northern Ireland lag behind Wales and Scotland in terms of safe staffing legislation – Wales has had a law in place since 2017 and Scotland's parliament is considering a bill on the issue.

Northern Ireland does not have a safe staffing law – or a government to push it through, but its Department of Health has been exploring the issue.

‘We can’t stand back and allow our health services to deteriorate any longer because of something that is within our government’s control’

Patricia Marquis, England director, RCN

‘It’s the most awful feeling – knowing you can’t give patients what they deserve’

London intensive care nurse Danielle Tiplady shared her experience of short-staffing. Ms Tiplady told Nursing Standard how she used to work in an area that was routinely under-staffed. 

‘I was a newly qualified nurse then and I would be left in situations where I was in charge,’ she said. 


Danielle Tiplady.
Picture: Neil O'Connor

‘That was very scary, I always felt very insecure and vulnerable.’

The quality of care patients received also suffered, said Ms Tiplady who was representing the London region at the RCN meeting.

‘It’s the most awful feeling, knowing you’re not able to give patients what they deserved,’ she said. 

‘Sometimes I would go home crying because I felt so guilty that I had forgot to give someone their pain relief.’

Ms Tiplady said her experience was not unique and said it was driving nurses out of the profession.

‘I’ve had a lot of friends who have left nursing or are considering leaving,’ she said.

 

RCN England director Patricia Marquis said the campaign will be member-driven.

'I know how passionate our members are and harnessing this passion to create and drive change will be pivotal to this campaign,' she said. 'It won’t be easy, but we must come together to make this happen.'

Ms Marquis said it was time for the government to act for both nurses and patients.

'We can’t stand back and allow our health services to deteriorate any longer because of something that is within our government’s control,' she said.

'We need funding for more people to train as nurses and we need clear accountability for tackling the huge shortfall of nursing staff.'

RCN branches in England will hosting events for members who want to become involved in the campaign.

College president Anne Marie Rafferty told Nursing Standard: ‘This is going to one of the most important campaigns the college has ever run. We are trying to create a nursing nuclear reaction.’


Related material

The RCN's campaign page


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