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Members to play crucial role in securing safe nurse staffing law

5 Feb 2019

Nursing staff will shape every aspect of the RCN’s campaign for legislation in England.

Smiling nursing assistant speaks with patient in hospital bed

The RCN is campaigning for nurse staffing for safe and effective care to be enshrined in law across all four countries of the UK.

In England, members are gearing up to take a central role in the campaign with members and staff from the country’s nine regions meeting next week to decide what they want legislation to achieve.

RCN member Danielle Tiplady, who is attending the event on behalf of the London region, said: “This piece of work is so important and I’m delighted to be involved from the very beginning.

“It is vital that this work is driven and led by members, we are the ones that work on the frontline and we are the ones that will know what will work.”

Although the RCN’s safe staffing campaign looks different in each of the four countries, the call for legislation is UK-wide and driven by five common principles. 

These outline the need for a clear workforce strategy that can be translated into national, regional and local plans to have the right number of nursing staff with the right skills in the right place at the right time. Importantly, they demand responsibility and accountability for ensuring there are enough nursing staff to meet the changing needs of the population.

RCN President Anne Marie Rafferty said: “The work in England is taking a really different approach, building on what we’ve learned from successful campaigning in Wales and Scotland. 

“We’re determined to secure safe staffing legislation across the UK, to ensure patients get the safe, quality care they need and deserve.”

Patricia Marquis, Director of RCN England, added: “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 that there will be opportunities for each and every member of the RCN to get involved and create a legacy that will change staffing in England forever.”  

What’s happening elsewhere in the UK?

Following a successful campaign which began in 2006, safe staffing legislation covering NHS adult acute settings in Wales was introduced in 2016. The RCN is continuing to campaign to ensure this delivers improvements for nursing teams and their patients and for the law to be extended to other areas of nursing.

In May, the Scottish Government published the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill and the RCN’s campaign “Ask for More” is working to influence and shape the final Bill. 

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