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”
“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”
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.