Welsh Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams has been awarded a Royal College of Nursing Honorary Fellowship for her work on safe staffing policy at a ceremony in Glasgow.
Earlier this year the “more nurses” act made Wales the first part of Europe with safe staffing levels on hospital wards. Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill received royal assent in April.
“I’m pleased that Wales has become the first nation in Europe to introduce safe nurse staffing levels”
Ms Williams, the main driving force behind the legislation, originally proposed it as a private member’s bill with the support of the RCN in Wales.
Ahead of the Welsh Assembly elections, the Welsh Liberal Democrats also pledged to extend the act in future to include mental health wards, maternity wards and community nurses.
The fellowship is the highest award made by the RCN and is “in recognition of the outstanding contribution Kirsty Williams has made to healthcare”, said the college.
Ms Williams, assembly member for Brecon and Radnorshire and cabinet secretary for education, said: “We have so many fantastic nurses in Wales, but too often they are so overworked that they are unable to provide the very best care for patients.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats were determined to change that, which is why we ensured our more nurses bill became a reality,” said the former leader of the Welsh Democrats.
“Of course I’m pleased that Wales has become the first nation in Europe to introduce safe nurse staffing levels, but I am determined to still do more,” she said.
She added that a “key condition” on her joining the Welsh government was to ensure that “this important bill was extended to include other settings, such as maternity and mental health wards”.