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Pioneering safe nurse staffing legislation finally comes to children’s wards in Wales

03 Oct 2021 2 minute read
Photo by CDC on Unsplash.

Safe nurse staffing legislation has come into operation on children’s hospital wards in Wales, six months later than initially planned.

This means there is now a legal duty to calculate and maintain nurse staffing levels, according to a specified methodology, on paediatric inpatient wards.

Wales becomes the first country in Europe to introduce safe nursing levels for children, following the introduction of the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act in 2016.

This new regulation comes under section 25B of the act which previously only applied to adult acute medical and surgical inpatient settings.

In recent years the Welsh Government has sought to extend it to include children’s inpatient settings, and the original target date of April 2021 was delayed due to the pandemic.

Following the initial delay, former chief nursing officer, Professor Jean White, had said earlier this year she did not expect this to be implemented until 2022, but the change went into law on 1 October.


Speaking on Friday, Welsh Minister For Health And Social Services Eluned Morgan MS said “We are proud of this pioneering legislation and the difference it has already made to nurse staffing in Wales.

“The regulations coming into force today will extend the act’s second duty to paediatric inpatient wards, and we are the first UK nation to do this.

“The purpose of the act is to empower frontline nurses, and their leaders, to use their professional judgement when determining appropriate nurse staffing levels in order to ensure they provide the best quality care.”

Director of RCN Wales, Helen Whyley, welcomed the development and tweeted: “Great to see the @WGHealthandCare extend the staffing establishment duty of the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) 2016 to children’s wards today. Time to fast track extension to all areas nursing care is provided. The evidence base is clear safe nurse staffing levels save lives.”

Professor Sally Holland Children’s Commissioner for Wales welcomed the “additional safeguards for the care of children and young people”.

She added: “The government should now look at extending this to other settings, including community nursing and mental health inpatient settings, and other paediatric settings.”

According to the Welsh Parliament, work continues, aiming to extend the law to cover mental health inpatient settings, as well as health visiting and district nursing.

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