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Safe Staffing

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

Our members campaigned hard, sent postcards, signed petitions and gave evidence at the National Assembly for Wales to make the case for legislation.

We now need to work with the Welsh Government and build on the success of the passing of this historic Act. We need to be fully involved in its implementation, responding to public consultations on the comprehensive guidance to be issued to Health Boards.

We also look forward to the extension of the Act to other core areas, such as mental health, maternity and children’s nursing.

Where are we now?

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 adult acute care settings, an appropriate nurse staffing level must be calculated and maintained.
  • 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.

The Campaign for Safe Staffing Legislation

Richard Jones delivers petition 

What happens next?

Scrutinising Implementation

  • 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 / Click her to find out more.

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. 

Join the RCN as we campaign for the extension.

Get in touch

See Facebook or Twitter for our latest events and consultations. 

Contact RCN Wales Policy & Public Affairs.

Page last updated - 17/09/2018