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Scotland will be next to introduce nurse staffing legislation

  • 5 Comments

Scotland is to introduce legislation for safer nurse staffing in the NHS, first minister Nicola Sturgeon will announce tomorrow.

Speaking at the Royal College of Nursing’s annual congress, Ms Sturgeon is expected to say the government will make it a legal requirement for health boards to use nursing and midwifery workforce planning tools to calculate staffing levels.

Discussions with stakeholders will take place this summer and the Scottish government will also investigate whether other parts of the workforce should see workforce tools developed as well.

“We will enshrine these [workforce] planning tools in law and examine what other areas of the workforce would benefit from having similar tools”

Nicola Sturgeon 

“Since this government came to power in 2007 there are more than 2,300 extra qualified nurses and midwives working in our NHS,” she will tell RCN delegates in Glasgow.

“In addition to having record staffing levels, Scotland has led the UK in the development of mandatory nursing and midwifery workload, and workforce planning tools that help health boards to plan for the number of staff they require,” she will say.

“By using these tools, health boards can make sure they have the right number of staff to provide the best possible care for patients in a variety of specialities,” she will add.

“The link between safe and sustainable staffing levels – including qualified nurse numbers - and high quality care is well established”

Fiona McQueen

She will go to say: “To build on our record, we will enshrine these planning tools in law and examine what other areas of the workforce would benefit from having similar tools developed, which will further strengthen our commitment to patient safety in our wards.

“The RCN and other nurse representatives were vital to the creation of the innovative workforce planning tools, and they’ll continue to play a key role as we develop the new law,” Ms Sturgeon will say.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, chief nursing officer for Scotland Fiona McQueen said: “The link between safe and sustainable staffing levels – including qualified nurse numbers – and high quality care is well established.

“It’s vital to have the right number of staff in place, with the right skills. We already have building blocks in place in Scotland to achieve this, including evidence based planning tools and enhanced training.”

Wales became the first country in the UK to introduce legislation for nurse staffing earlier this year.

The RCN campaigned for the legislation in partnership with Liberal Democrat Welsh Assembly member Kirsty Williams who put the bill forward. Ms Williams was presented with the RCN Honorary Fellowship at congress last night.

  • 5 Comments

Readers' comments (5)

  • michael stone

    ' will also investigate whether other parts of the workforce should see workforce tools developed as well'

    It is the entire 'clinical team' that needs to be right - so I'm not 100% sure about the meaning, there.

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  • At my successful appeal against the NMC at Leeds the judge criticised Care UK for allowing dangerous staffing levels and unsafe working conditions that placed staff in an intolerable position.
    I understand from NMC cases since that the NMC do not take staffing levels into consideration as mitigating circumstances when dealing with FtP cases

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  • The NHS is not just about Nurses or Doctors, there is a wider health team. Please look into the working practices and staffing levels of the whole of the workforce not just those that have been mentioned.
    Many people are working in isolation and undertaking lots of duties to keep the service going, without proper support or even acknowledgement from management, let alone Politicians being aware of these issues.

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  • connormum2003

    Although I do agree with the previous comments made this is a great step forward for nursing and should have been put in place a long time ago. Well done Nicola.
    RCN should have pushed for this. They are a very weak voice for nurses I believe.

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  • care homes do use a tool to establish staffing levels based on residents needs however, the tool is flawed. Many care homes will still employ minimum staff, will include the nurse in charge, who is usually the only nurse on duty, in the numbers to provide hands on care whilst also managing the unit. It is unacceptable to not have enough qualified staff on duty as well as care staff. Nurses put their registration at risk every single day. The phrase " minimum staffing levels" gives employers a get of jail free card - they will also report they are working at agreed levels by the powers that be, leaving everyone vulnerable.

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