Life-saving legislation for children's wards in Wales comes into force

1 Oct 2021

We are delighted to see the extension of the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act into children’s hospital wards. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has campaigned tirelessly for safe staffing since 2006.

After successful RCN lobbying, Wales became the first country in the UK and Europe to introduce pioneering legislation on nurse staffing in 2016. Getting the legislation itself over the line in the Senedd was crucial, but RCN Wales didn’t stop there: our team worked tirelessly for years to ensure the guidance on the law’s application would truly lead to improved nurse staffing across Wales.

Section 25B places a legal duty on health boards and trusts to calculate and maintain nurse staffing according to a specified methodology, and to inform patients of the actual and calculated levels. From October, this will apply to paediatric inpatient wards in hospitals across Wales. 

Safe staffing will have a directly positive impact on children’s welfare in Wales. More broadly, safe staffing saves lives. Research shows that having inadequate levels of registered nurses on wards can increase the risk of mortality by up to 26%.

Professor Sally Holland, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, said: “I very much welcome these new regulations, giving additional safeguards for the care of children and young people who all have a right to the best possible healthcare under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"The Government should now look at extending this to other settings, including community nursing and mental health inpatient settings, and other paediatric settings.”

RCN believes this act can be extended further. We – along with doctors, psychiatrists, and carers from all sectors – continue our calls to the Welsh Government for Section 25B of the legislation to cover community nursing, mental health and care homes. 


Page last updated - 01/10/2021