Safe nurse staffing campaign: RCN takes its fight to the public

College appeals for the public’s support in its bid to secure a safe staffing law in England

College appeals for the public’s support in its bid to secure a safe staffing law in England

The RCN wants to enlist the support of the public.

The RCN will make a direct appeal to the public to support its campaign for a safe nurse staffing law in England.

Adverts on billboards and in newspapers will take the college’s message about the consequences of a 40,000 nurse shortage and lack of political accountability for this, to the public for the first time. The publicity will carry the slogan the People's People and the campaign is promoted on social media using the hashtag #safestaffingsaveslives.

An opportunity for the public to share experience of unsafe nurse numbers

RCN England director, Patricia Marquis, said: ‘The public can come at this from a different perspective to share their experiences and it is important for the government to hear the position from both sides.’

People will be invited to sign a petition calling for the government to invest more in nursing education, and to make the secretary of state for health and social care accountable for providing safe and effective care. The college also wants a statutory body to have responsibility for future nurse workforce planning.

A YouGov poll of 1,693 people in the UK for the RCN earlier this month, showed 71% think there are not enough nurses in the NHS.

College analysis of NHS Digital data suggests that since 2013/14, the extra 9,894 nurses recruited to NHS hospitals is dwarfed by the additional 1,557 074 admissions in that period.

Additionally, since the removal of the nursing bursary in England in 2016, applications for nursing courses there have fallen by 29%, and the number of students starting degrees has fallen by 8%.

Short-staffing is about patients, not spreadsheets

RCN chief executive Donna Kinnair said: ‘Staffing shortfalls are never simply numbers on a spreadsheet – they affect real patients in real communities.

'We’re calling on the public in England to fight for nurses and sign our petition calling on the Westminster government to invest in the future workforce and make clear who is accountable in law for safe patient care.' 

The systems in England and Northern Ireland are behind those of Scotland and Wales, where safe staffing laws have already been enacted

A Department of Health spokesperson said there were 16,800 more nurses than in 2010, adding: ‘The safety of patients is paramount and all hospitals are already required by law to have the right staff in the right place at the right time.’

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