Guidance on how employers and health boards in Wales should abide by new nurse staffing laws is to be developed for consultation this autumn, with full compliance across adult acute medical and surgical inpatient wards required from April 2018.
The country’s health secretary today ordered the commencement of the new Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 to put in motion the steps for implementing the regulations.
“This act provides a route map for NHS organisations to determine what is needed”
The act, which was passed in March, requires Welsh health boards and NHS trusts to maintain staffing levels that are calculated using professional judgement and evidence-based workforce tools, and by taking into account the acuity of patients, and ratios of nurses to patients.
Nursing experts will now help to develop the guidance for this part of the act, which will be consulted on in the autumn.
According to plans laid out today, adult acute medical and surgical inpatient wards will be required to abide by this requirement from April 2018.
At the same time, from April 2018 health boards and trusts will also be legally required to report on nurse staffing levels, and Welsh ministers will have to publish these and provide them to the National Assembly for Wales.
Ahead of this, from April 2017, health boards and trusts will be legally required to ensure that there are sufficient nurses to care for patients sensitively.
The act states they must do this by carrying out workforce planning including for nurse recruitment, retention, education and training.
wales health secretary
Health secretary Vaughan Gething met with representatives from the Royal College of Nursing and staff at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend today to announce the next steps for implementing the law.
“Nurses are the beating heart of the NHS here in Wales. It was good to be with representatives from the RCN, as well as staff at the Princess of Wales, to announce the commencement of the Act and to hear first-hand their experiences of doing the job, day to day,” he said.
“Listening to both the good, and the challenges they face is incredibly valuable and I look forward to meeting with them again in the near future,” he added.
Chief nursing officer for Wales Jean White said: “We want to ensure that the nursing workforce is appropriate to meet the needs of patients in the NHS in Wales and this act provides a route map for NHS organisations to determine what is needed.”
She said today’s event was an “important milestone” in marking the beginning stages of how to bring in the law.
RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly said: “The RCN wholeheartedly welcomes the official commencement of this act which will transform patient care.
“We look forward to working with the Welsh government to ensure the enablement of appropriate nurse staffing levels and skill mix will deliver sufficient time for nurses to deliver safe care,” she said.