Last year, I stated that 2016 would be a historic year for nursing in Wales and I am pleased to say that my optimism was proven to be right.
During the RCN’s centenary year, we saw a momentous piece of potential legislation become a reality. In March, a Bill introduced by Kirsty Williams AM which places a duty on health boards and NHS Trusts to maintain sufficient nurse staffing levels on wards of the NHS, became law in Wales – the first of its kind in the UK and Europe. The success of this is an important step forward in securing a safer and more sustainable future for the Welsh NHS, its workers and the people they serve. We extend our thanks to Mark Drakeford AM for his excellent work in supporting the Bill.
As well as this, in September RCN Wales set out our latest campaign priorities for the new Welsh Government. Following consultation with our members, ‘Leading Nursing, Shaping Care: We Carry The Torch’, outlines the most important nursing issues in Wales, including investment in nursing education, valuing nursing, nursing leadership being found at every level and ensuring the successful implementation of the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016. In 2017, we will carry on working with our members on ensuring that these issues are prioritised by the Welsh Government, and the National Assembly for Wales.
Also this year, our fifth annual Nurse of the Year Awards took place in November, highlighting the achievement and excellence in practice of the nursing family in Wales. This event celebrates the many facets of nursing in Wales and once again, shone a light on the hard working individuals who spend each day working to keep our health service afloat.
The achievements of this year are something we will build upon by working with key stakeholders, alongside our members, in helping guarantee a better future for the nursing workforce in Wales.
As always we have had trials, however, in the face of economic uncertainty, as well as political and social change, our health service and its workers have thrived and not faltered. This kind of work ethic during adversity is what sets the nursing workforce apart – carrying on each and every day of the year, ensuring that patients receive our finest care, even in challenging circumstances.
Finally, a huge thanks to those who will be working over the holiday period this year. Your dedication and commitment ensures that our NHS is open to patients, 365 days a year without fail.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!