Welsh union leaders have started a new campaign calling on policy makers to invest in nurse education, value the profession and tackle the shortage of community nursing staff.
The Royal College of Nursing in Wales launched its new drive – titled Leading Nursing, Shaping Care – We carry the torch – at the Senedd on Wednesday with more than 60 nurses in attendance.
“This campaign highlights some of the real concerns of our members”
The college said it was intended to ensure that the commitments set out in the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act, which came into force earlier this year, were now put in practice with investment.
It calls on ministers to strengthen the nursing workforce by investing in education and valuing nurses. The shortage of district nurses in Wales was also highlighted as a key issue by the RCN.
To achieve world-class healthcare in Wales, there has to be sufficient numbers of nurses, with the right skills and they need to be supported by the right polices in their work place, said the college.
The college has published a briefing paper (see attached PDF below) to accompany the launch, which is designed to provide a statistical overview of the strengths and vulnerabilities of the nursing workforce in Wales.
Among the 10 key summary points set out in the report were that overall numbers of employed NHS nurses were “static” and did not reflect increased patient numbers, dependency and bed occupancy.
In addition, it said the student nursing bursary should be retained in Wales and that ministers should ensure pre-registration course places must be maintained at the “right level” to meet workforce requirements, rather than previous “boom and bust” cycles.
Meanwhile, it said the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 should be extended to other areas of care such as mental health, maternity and the community.
In addition, the campaign stated that it was important to “note the distinction” between the terms registered nurse and nursing staff, noting that the latter also included healthcare support workers.
It also highlighted the value of nursing leadership in healthcare, noting concerns that some NHS nursing teams do not have sufficient numbers of senior registered nurses to “provide quality clinical leadership and ensure excellence in patient care”.
Tina Donnelly, director of RCN Wales, said: “This campaign highlights some of the real concerns of our members including the need to invest in nursing education and the alarming shortage of district nurses.
“We have also used the campaign to showcase the excellent care given by some of our truly great nurses here in Wales,” added Ms Donnelly.
“The passing of the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act by the National Assembly for Wales was a great achievement but now we need to put it into practice,” she said. “Investing in the nursing profession will directly improve the quality of patient care.”