A bill to ensure minimum nurse staffing levels in hospitals in Wales has received royal assent, reaching the final stage of the law-making process.
The Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill received its seal of royal approval today during a ceremony in Cardiff.
“This is great news for patients and the nurses entrusted with their care as this new law will definitely save lives”
The law will now come into effect once Welsh ministers bring in a statutory instrument that provides more detail on how the legislation should be complied with.
Welsh Liberal Democrats party leader Kirsty Williams – who put forward the proposed legislation at the end of 2013 – and health minister Mark Drakeford attended today’s event.
Tina Donnelly, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, which has campaigned for the introduction of the law, was also at the ceremony.
She described it as a “momentous occasion”, noting Wales was the first country in the UK to legally require sufficient nurse staffing levels on acute hospital wards.
Under the legislation, health boards and NHS trusts in Wales must calculate staffing levels they need for their adult acute inpatient wards and surgical wards, and must take steps to ensure those levels are maintained.
“Wales is leading the way in improving patient care and becoming a world leader in healthcare”
Ms Donnelly said: “Wales is leading the way in improving patient care and becoming a world leader in healthcare.
“This is a truly historic moment for Wales and the UK but more importantly this is great news for patients and the nurses entrusted with their care, as this new law will definitely save lives.”
She also paid tribute to Ms Williams and others who have helped to develop the bill.
“Our government has listened to nurses, health organisations and the general public. RCN members worked hard to provide evidence to assembly members on the importance of this bill by writing letters, sending emails, face-to-face meetings and social media,” she added.