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Staffing for safe and effective care

The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill has been passed by MSPs after a vote on the Bill in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 2 May.

This is a ground-breaking piece of legislation. It is the first of this kind in the UK to apply to both health and social care services. The RCN called for the legislation to do more than put the existing workload and workforce planning tools on a statutory footing. These calls have been answered with the majority of our asks included at the final stage. 
The RCN would like to thank everyone who has supported our Ask for more campaign. 
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the commitment to put safe staffing on a statutory footing from the stage of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress in 2016. 
Over 5,000 people signed up to support our campaign, which highlighted the changes that needed to be made in order for the Bill to make a real difference. 
The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill is only a starting point. No timetable for implementation has been set out as yet and a lot of work will be required to develop the associated guidance and secondary legislation to support implementation. 
The RCN will continue to be engaged in this process and will have the opportunity influence and shape how the Bill will impact on the day-to-day running of the health and care services. Work will also continue on the review of existing and the development of new workforce planning methodologies and tools.
Check back on this page for updates in the near future.
You can find out more about how laws are made here.

Read our Stage 3 briefing to MSPs

Read the RCN's position on Stage 3 amendments to the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill ahead of the parliamentary debate on 2 May.

Read our Stage 3 member briefing

A briefing for RCN members ahead of the parliamentary debate on Stage 3 of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill on 2 May.

Read our briefing to MSPs on the case for non-caseload holding SCNs

Find out why RCN Scotland believes that senior charge nurses – and their equivalents in the community – have a vital role to play in the delivery of safe and effective care.

Read our briefing to MSPs on the role of registered nurses in care homes

Find out why RCN Scotland believes that care home residents have the right to receive high quality, safe care and that the Bill should apply the same principles across the NHS and care homes.

Read the latest campaign blog

New legislation for staffing for safe and effective care is a tribute to our influencing power, says Tom Wilson.

Find out more about the RCN view

Positive Outcomes Theme

Positive outcomes

Positive outcomes for people and staff must be at the heart of decision making.
Staff To Care Theme

Staff to care for people across Scotland

This legislation is a starting point. Work must continue to ensure that Scotland has the health and care staff it needs across nursing and other disciplines. The Scottish Government must take responsibility for ensuring a supply of nursing staff that meets demand.

Informed decision making

All decisions about staffing for nursing teams must be based on data and evidence, which is robust, up to date, and used appropriately.
Decision Making Theme

Responsibility, accountability, real time action and long term planning

Organisations must take responsibility for providing the right number of nursing staff. Staff should have the right knowledge, skills and experience and be deployed in the right place and at the right time to provide safe, high quality care to patients.
Accountability Theme

Professional Voice Theme

A strong professional voice

Nursing leaders, whether at a ward, team or governance level, should be able to exercise their professional judgement about whether there are the right number of nursing staff with the right knowledge, skills and experience, in the right place and at the right time.
Scrutiny & Sanction Theme

Scrutiny and sanction

There must be public scrutiny of staffing for safe and effective care and sanction if the law is not met.

Find out more about what the RCN has been doing

If you want to know more about the RCN's work on staffing for safe and effective care you can contact the team at


Page last updated - 11/06/2019