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RCN Scotland

Scottish legislation on safe staffing

The Scottish Government is developing a Bill on safe staffing in Scotland. This follows a commitment made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at RCN Congress in Glasgow in 2016.

The RCN has responded to the Scottish Government’s initial proposals for the Bill and is calling for guaranteed safe and effective staffing levels in all health and care settings across the UK. Evidence shows that the right number of registered nurses caring for patients is linked to better outcomes for patients and safer care.

Safe and effective staffing in every health and care setting will ensure that people using services are safe and well cared for, wherever they are. Safe staffing must be underpinned by a long-term and robust approach to getting workforce planning right.

Government proposals

Read RCN Scotland's response to the Scottish Government consultation

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An RCN briefing for members on safe staffing in Scotland

Find out what you need to know including why it's important, what safe staffing looks like and what's happening in Scotland and across the other UK countries

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Safe and Effective Staffing: the Real Picture

RCN report on the current situation in the UK and what needs to be done to address the issues, providing an important contribution to the conversation on nurse staffing levels and patient safety in health care. 

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What’s happening across the UK?

Safe staffing legislation which covers NHS hospitals has already been introduced in Wales. The RCN is continuing to campaign to ensure that this law improves the situation for nursing teams and their patients. The RCN is also working with the Welsh Government to extend the legislation to other areas of nursing.

In Northern Ireland there is no law on nurse staffing levels, but the Department of has outlined nurse staffing in the Delivering Care framework.


In England there is no law related to nurse staffing. NHS Trusts have not been told to use specific workforce planning tools, but resources and national guidance are used to support local decision making on staffing.