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Proper staffing must be legal requirement

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NHS employers should have a legal duty to employ an appropriate number of nurses, the RCN has told politicians in Wales.

NHS employers should have a legal duty to employ an appropriate number of nurses, the RCN has told politicians in Wales.

The recommendation is one of 12 submitted to the Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee, which is reviewing workforce planning for all healthcare staff in Wales.

‘The purpose of this statutory mechanism would be to galvanise local organisations into effective workforce planning…to ensure planning ceases to be merely a reflection of historic patterns and financial resourcing and instead is a reflection of nursing and health need,’ the RCN said in its written evidence to the committee.

Trusts should also be forced to consider the experience of nurses, the skill mix of staff and the severity of patients’ conditions when planning their workforce, the RCN said.

In addition, the college wants to see workforce planning carried out on a three-yearly cycle. It is now done annually which, according to the RCN, causes ‘sharp fluctuations’ in the number of graduate nurses seeking employment and may have an ‘unexpected and undesirable’ impact on services.

Other RCN demands include a job guarantee for all newly qualified nurses, a rise in the number of community nurses, publication of a workforce plan by the government and monitoring of excess hours.

Tina Donnelly, director of RCN Wales, who gave oral evidence to the committee, told NT: ‘We have submitted a very robust document to the committee and there is a lot of strong evidence within there to back it up.

‘This is a superb opportunity for the RCN. We believe we have addressed the 12 key areas which will ensure we have the right number of nurses in the right place at the right time.’

The committee will gather all evidence by the end of November and will present findings to the Welsh Assembly next year.

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