A major vote will take place tomorrow on proposals to bring in legislation on safe nurse staffing levels in Wales.
The “More Nurses Bill” offers Wales the opportunity to transform the way care is provided in our NHS, according to its proposer Kirsty Williams.
Ms Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, was successful in December 2013 in a Welsh Assembly ballot to introduce backbench legislation.
“This bill offers Wales an opportunity to lead by example by becoming the first country to put a legal duty on safe nurse staffing levels”
Her proposal would see Wales become the first country in the UK with a legal duty on safe nurse staffing levels.
The legislation would require the government to produce regulations that set minimum nurse staffing levels in Wales for each different acute and specialist service.
The legislation would also give the government the power to issue similar regulations in future for community nursing.
The vote in the assembly on Wednesday will mark the end of stage one of the bill. If assembly members vote in favour, the bill will progress to stage two and an initial round of amendments.
So far, two cross-party assembly committees have given their backing to the bill.
“The bill will improve patient care and ensure better outcomes”
In addition, over 4,000 people have signed a petition in support of the proposed legislation.
Ms Williams said: “This bill offers Wales an opportunity to lead by example by becoming the first country to put a legal duty on safe nurse staffing levels.
“I want to give nurses the time to identify and address potential problems with a patient’s care, so they can play a preventative, rather than simply a reactive role,” she said. “This in turn improves patient outcomes, including saving patients’ lives.”
She added: “I urge assembly members from all parties to unite so we can help transform healthcare in the Wales”.
Tina Donnelly, director of the Royal Collegeof Nursing in Wales, said the Safe Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill was “the opportunity” to enshrine safe staffing levels as a part of law.
“Nurses in Wales have spoken personally to family, friends and neighbours, in support of this bill and many of them have been very surprised to find that we do not currently have this legislation already within the NHS in Wales,” she said..
She added: “The RCN is asking all of our Assembly Members to vote ‘yes’ tomorrow to support the bill. The bill will improve patient care and ensure better outcomes. The safety of patients in Wales should not be ignored.”