RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair has said we need legislation to address the shortage of nursing staff in England and ensure patient safety.
She was giving evidence as part of the consultation being run by NHS England and NHS Improvement on legislative changes needed to deliver the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dame Donna said we need legislation to give the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care explicit powers for the health care workforce across England. They must have overall responsibility for workforce, and devolve specific powers as necessary to national organisations such as NHS England and NHS Improvement.
The RCN believes the workforce crisis has come about because there is a lack of clarity about who is responsible for growing and developing the workforce to care for the number of patients there are. To achieve safe staffing, we need the right professionals, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time.
Dame Donna said the review of the Health and Social Care Act is a long-overdue opportunity to fix the legislation that shapes our health and care system. “The lack of accountability has put us back years,” she told the Health and Social Care Select Committee.
“Successive Secretaries of State have taken decisions which mean we cannot deliver the NHS Long Term Plan. There needs to be an explicit accountability for the workforce with the Secretary of State.
“There can be no delivery of the Long Term Plan without investment in the workforce. We cannot go on with the same number of nurses, just moving them around, and feel we can deliver a safe, quality NHS. This is why we need a commitment to accountability for the workforce.”
RCN members have sent 10,000 emails in response to the consultation on legislative changes, explaining why severe shortages of nursing staff must be addressed.