Nursing Group

Safe and Effective Care

Implementing and extending the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016

  What is the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act?

  • The Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 became law on 21st March 2016.
  • Health Boards now have a legal duty to regard the importance of ensuring appropriate levels of nurse staffing in all settings.
  • In adults acute medical and surgical settings calculated and maintained, according to specified methodology.
  • Health Boards will have a duty to report on compliance with staffing requirements and take action if failings occur.
  • The Welsh Government has issued guidance on how to determine appropriate staffing levels.

  Why is this so important?

  • This law will protect patients. Research showed poor nurse staffing levels increased mortality by up to 26% compared to better staffed wards.
  • This historic Welsh law is the first of its kind in the UK. International precedents have been successful in reducing patient mortality.
  • This law will empower the ward sister/charge nurse and the Nurse Director equally to ensure that there are safe nurse staffing levels.
  • RCN members across Wales in all sectors rated achieving safe staffing as their top concern. They campaigned hard, sending postcards, signing petitions and giving evidence in the Assembly to make the case for legislation.

What happens next?

Progress and Challenge:

Read the RCN Wales Report November 2019 on the Implementation of the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016.

Welsh language version of this report also available.

RCN Member or Assembly Member?  
Join the RCN as we campaign.

Click here to download and share the Effective Implementation poster with Questions to ask our Heath Boards.
Click here to download and share the Protecting Patient Care, Everywhere poster with our Questions to ask our Welsh Government.

Richard Jones Safe Staffing

Safe Staffing - History of the Campaign in Wales

The Nurse Staffing levels (Wales) Act 2016 became law on 21st March 2016.

  • RCN Members campaigned hard, from 2006, for the Act we gained in 2016.
  • Watch the film which details RCN Wales' success in lobbying for legislation to improve patient care, here: An Act of Compassion.
  • Read the accompanying book, authored by Greg Lewis. The book documents the journey RCN members undertook, from first identifying the issue of insufficient nursing numbers, to the present, that sees us working closely with the Welsh Government to extend the scope of the Act to cover other areas of nursing care. An Act of Compassion book
  • Find out more about the history of the legislation here: Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 

  • Sandra Robinson-Clark Safe Staffing

    Activist Tool Kit

    The Royal College of Nursing Wales wants to work with the Welsh Government to ensure the guidance for implementing the law is comprehensive, clear and achieves the aims of the Act.                                         We will also continue to campaign to ensure sustainable workforce planning is at the heart of the NHS and sufficient numbers of nurses are educated to help fulfill the Act’s aims.                                               Our Employment Relations Team have created an Activist Toolkit to help you hold your Local Health Board to account.  Coming soon.

    You can read RCN Briefing: A Workforce Strategy for Wales here.


    Safe Staffing Wales Extending the Act

    Safe Staffing - Protecting patient care everywhere by extending the Act

    The Act’s provisions now need to be extended to other areas including children’s nursing, mental health, community and care homes. Further work is needed to ensure that better patient and staffing information in these fields is held and that workforce planning tools are developed.

    Read our Care Home report here

    Welsh language version of this report also available here


    Safe Staffing - What is happening around the UK?

    Take a look at what is happening in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland here.

    Get in touch

    See Facebook or Twitter for our latest events and consultations. 

    Contact RCN Wales Policy & Public Affairs.

    Page last updated - 15/06/2020