Safe nursing petition reaches 10,000 signatures
A petition organised by the Royal College of Nursing Wales demanding that a law on safe staffing levels be extended to community and mental health nursing will be considered for a debate in the Senedd after hitting over 10,000 signatures.
The Nurse Staffing Levels Act, introduced in 2016, requires health boards and NHS trusts in Wales to take all reasonable steps to maintain a specified nurse staffing level and appropriate skill mix of nurses required to provide appropriate care to adult acute medical and surgical inpatient settings.
In October 2021 safe nursing levels also came into operation on children’s hospital wards in Wales and government ministers confirmed at the time they aiming to extend the law to cover mental health inpatient settings, as well as health visiting and district nursing.
The petition will remain open until 12 May 2022 and it is expected to be considered at the ended Petitions Committee’s next available meeting on 23 May, at which point members will decide whether to request a plenary debate, or to take the petition forward in some other way.
If the committee decides to request a debate, it could happen before the end of the current Senedd term in June.
‘We’re overwhelmed by the amount of support we’ve seen. The fact that over 10,000 people have taken the time to sign shows how concerned people are about the care their loved ones receive,’ said Helen Whyley, director of RCN Wales.
Ms Whyley added: ‘Safe staffing is everyone’s business. It’s only with the right numbers of registered nurses in all clinical settings where nurses deliver care that we can truly offer every patient the quality of care they deserve.
Jack Sargeant MS, chair of the Senedd’s Petitions Committee, said: ‘The campaign behind this petition has been effective in generating an impressive level of support across Wales, achieving more than 10,000 signatures in a few short months. I look forward to having a discussion in the Committee on how we can take this petition forward, and explore the important issues it raises in greater detail.’
The RCN Wales published a report in 2021 which estimated that there were 1,719 nursing vacancies in the NHS in Wales alone, up from 1,612 in 2020 but said the actual number could be higher because it is based on incomplete and inconsistent data.
The RCN has also called for Wales to join the rest of the UK in publishing national statistics for nursing vacancies.
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