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Scotland launches consultation on nurse staffing laws

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The Scottish government has launched a consultation on plans to introduce nursing and midwifery safe staffing legislation.

The intention to develop proposals for legislation on safe staffing was first announced last year by Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Royal College of Nursing’s annual congress.

It follows the introduction of staffing laws in Wales last year, which will come into force on NHS adult acute medical and surgical inpatient wards in 2018.

Similar to Wales, the Scottish government said it wanted to enshrine the use of nursing and midwifery workforce planning tools in legislation.

Launching the consultation on the proposals today at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, health secretary for Scotland Shona Robison said there was a “clear link” between sustainable staffing levels and quality care.

While NHS staffing had increased to a record high in recent years, it was “vital” the health service had the “right number of staff in place, with the right skills, long into the future,” she said.

“Scotland has led the UK in the development and use of a ground-breaking evidence based approach to nursing and midwifery workload and workforce planning,” she said. ”Now we intend to build on our record to date and go further still.”

“Scotland has led the UK in the development of an evidence based approach to nursing and midwifery workforce planning”

Shona Robison

Ms Robison urged nurses and members of the public to take part in the consultation on the proposals for safe and effective staffing legislation.

NHS Forth Valley director of nursing, Professor Angela Wallace, who is also the chair of the Scottish Executive Nurse Directors group, said the region had been using country’s national workforce planning tools for many years.

“These important tools form a core part of our wider care assurance system to ensure we have the right number and skill mix of nursing and midwifery staff in all of our inpatient wards,” she said.

“They have also helped drive forward improvements in the safety and quality of care we provide for patients and their families, by helping us to identify and respond to areas where additional resources are required to meet the needs of patients,” added Professor Wallace.

“These important tools have…helped drive forward improvements in the safety and quality of care we provide”

Angela Wallace

The Royal College of Nursing’s director in Scotland, Theresa Fyffe, noted that integration of health and social care services had become “a reality” in Scotland and welcomed the chance to influence the scope of the legislation through the consultation.

“Nursing care is delivered in many different settings, including in local health centres, out in the community, in care homes and in hospitals,” said Ms Fyffe.

“We’re therefore pleased that this consultation gives the public and all those who deliver patient care the opportunity to have their say on the shape and scope of the proposed safe staffing legislation,” she said.

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