Nurses want safe staffing law extended to care homes and the community

Safe staffing is most pressing health issue for the next Welsh parliament, RCN survey finds
Picture shows a community nurse wearing a mask

Safe staffing is most pressing health issue for the next Welsh parliament, RCN survey finds

Picture shows a community nurse wearing a mask
Picture: iStock

Nurses want the new Welsh government, to be elected on 6 May, to prioritise safe staffing in care homes and the community, surveys show.

RCN Wales carried out member surveys in March and in September to November 2020 about what health priorities the next government should focus on, ahead of the election for the Welsh parliament, or Senedd Cymru.

Picture of RCN Wales director Helen Whyley
Helen Whyley

Safe staffing outside hospital settings is the top priority

The college was successful in campaigning for the 2016 Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act, which established a legal duty to maintain nurse staffing levels on medical and surgical adult wards, with children’s inpatient wards to be included this year.

But more than three quarters of survey respondents are concerned about safe staffing in care homes and community settings and want to see the law extended.

RCN Wales director Helen Whyley said: ‘Community nursing and care home nursing are inextricably linked. They support each other to care for patients who would otherwise be admitted to hospital.

‘This has never been truer than during the COVID-19 pandemic, where staff shortages have been compounded by staff self-isolating for the safety of their patients and colleagues. Clearly, safe staffing outside hospital settings must be the top priority in Wales.’

RCN survey on health priorities in Wales

A total of 753 responses were received to surveys in March and September to November 2020. Members were asked about health priorities for the new Welsh government.

  • More than a third of respondents 268 (37%) believe the safe staffing act should be extended to care homes
  • Nearly a quarter, or 168 (23%), think safe staffing in community nursing should be a priority
  • Safe staffing in community hospitals was mentioned by 120 (16%)
  • Taken together, three quarters of respondents (550, 76%) raised safe staffing in care homes and the community
  • Nearly all the respondents (724, or 96%) said government must work much harder to retain existing NHS nurses, with better pay cited to increase retention
  • Similarly, 712 (95%) said more needs to be done to increase nursing student numbers

Impact of safe staffing legislation

When safe staffing legislation in Wales was introduced, the RCN said there was a ‘change for the better’, with increased registered nurse and healthcare support worker numbers, as well students.

A consultation by the Welsh government on extending the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 closed on 16 December 2020.

Find out more

RCN Wales member survey

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