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Nurse safe staffing laws set to be extended in Wales

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Safe staffing legislation in Wales is set to be extended to other areas of nursing, with paediatric inpatients earmarked as a priority, the country’s chief nursing officer has said.

The Welsh government has announced plans to extend the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016, which currently covers adult acute inpatient wards and surgical wards, by the end of 2020.

“The Nurse Staffing Levels Act has a provision to extend to other services areas and the priority for us is to extend to paediatric inpatient area”

Jean White

As part of the upcoming extension to the law, CNO for Wales, Professor Jean White, told Nursing Times that there were plans to expand the legislation to cover paediatric inpatient services and district nurse led community services.

According to the CNO, the Welsh government is in the process of developing workforce principles to enable health boards to review their current staffing arrangements and “set the groundwork” for the extended legislation.

Professor White said: “The Nurse Staffing Levels Act has a provision to extend to other services areas and the priority for us is to extend to paediatric inpatient areas in this term of government.

“In preparation for extending the law we are developing workforce principles which will enable health boards to review their current staffing arrangements and set the groundwork for the Act prior to extension,” she added.

The principles will be issued this summer, she said, noting that the same approach was used by the government in Wales to prepare adult medical and surgical wards ahead of introducing the law back in 2016.

She highlighted that the principles were designed by service experts and said they were thoroughly tested across the whole of NHS Wales to ensure they were clearly understood.

“Workforce principles for district nurse led community services were introduced in November 2017, as we are planning to extend the law in this area as well,” said Professor White.

“These principles help align community nursing services to the 64 primary care clusters we have in Wales and support the aspirations of A Healthier Wales to bring care out of hospital and closer to where people live,” she added.

The latest plans for Wales come after Scotland passed the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill earlier this month to ensure its health and social care services are safely staffed.

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