RCN urges members to demand safe staffing legislation in England

College’s campaign aims to ‘create a legacy that will change staffing in England forever’

College’s campaign aims to ‘create a legacy that will change staffing in England forever’

Picture: Daniel Mitchell

A campaign for a safe staffing law for nursing in England has been launched, involving nurses from every region.

The RCN wants to see legislation that would ensure there are sufficient numbers and the right skill mix of nurses to meet the needs of the population.

National variation

England has lagged behind Wales and Scotland in terms of safe staffing legislation, with Wales having a law in place since 2017 and Scotland currently debating a bill on the issue.

While Northern Ireland does not have a safe staffing law, the country’s Department of Health has been exploring the issue following the publication of a policy document in 2014.

Driving change

RCN England director
Patricia Marquis

Launching the campaign, RCN England director Patricia Marquis said: ‘I know how passionate our members are, and harnessing this passion to create and drive change will be pivotal to this campaign.

‘I can’t script what we will be doing, but I know there will be opportunities for every member of the RCN to get involved and create a legacy that will change staffing in England forever.’

RCN representatives from England’s nine regions are set to meet next week to decide what they want the safe staffing legislation to achieve.

Engaging college members

London member Danielle Tiplady will represent the capital in the discussion and said membership engagement would be crucial to the success of the campaign.

‘It is vital that this work is driven and led by members; we are the ones that work on the front line and we are the ones that will know what will work,’ she said.

RCN president Anne Marie Rafferty said the upcoming campaign would adopt a ‘different approach’ than previous RCN intitiatives regarding safe staffing.

An RCN spokesperson said the campaign would target college members who had not engaged with the issue before.

Shortly after his appointment last year, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock indicated that he was prepared to look at the possibility of safe staffing legislation.

While a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson did not repeat Mr Hancock's previous commitment on safe staffing they said nurses were a key part of the government's plans for the future of the NHS.

'As part of our Long Term Plan we want the NHS to be the safest healthcare system in the world and our dedicated nurses underpin this ambition,' they said. 

Read more about the RCN campaign 

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