Nurses take the fight for safe staffing legislation to Parliament

Over fifty nursing staff and students met with MPs to discuss their concerns and experiences.

Matt Bodell
18 July 2019
Nurses take the fight for safe staffing legislation to Parliament

The campaign calls on MPs to make health bosses explicitly accountable for safely staffing.

Nursing staff from across England gathered in Parliament earlier this week to demand an end to the staffing crisis that puts patients at risk.

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At the Royal College of Nursing event, more than 50 nursing staff and nursing students delivering care across hospitals, care homes and community settings met MPs and Peers from all parties to discuss their experiences.

Over 100 Parliamentarians were present including the Minister of State for Health Stephen Hammond MP, Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Jon Ashworth MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry MP, and Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills and Anne Milton MP, who is a former nurse.

Both Scotland and Wales have already introduced legislation to ensure safe and effective staffing within healthcare organisations.

Tipping point.

Royal College of Nursing Director for England Patricia Marquis said: “Health and care services are reaching a tipping point, with nurses routinely working many hours of unpaid overtime to deliver the care people need. This puts nurses under impossible strain and puts patients at risk.  This is because there is no explicit accountability in law to ensure that there are enough professionals – with the right skills mix, in the right place, at the right time – to provide safe and effective care to patients across England.

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“Our members have a very clear message for the Government – change the law so that health and care services can’t be starved of much-needed staff.”

One in ten nursing positions in the NHS in England alone are unfilled, leaving a shortfall of around 40,000 nurses.  Over 10,000 EEA nurses have left the NMC’s register since the Brexit referendum in 2016.

Making the profession attractive.

Baroness Watkins of Tavistock, who sponsored the event said: “My message to the incoming Prime Minister is that if we are going to meet the WHO sustainable development goals for health we cannot over-rely on overseas recruitment of nursing staff.

“We need to recruit enough home-grown staff across all healthcare settings and we need to make the profession attractive to new entrants while retaining those we’ve already got.

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“Any new administration needs to look again at funding for nurse higher education.  That means, for example, student loans for those in the public sector paid off after a sensible period of no more than five years.”

Last month the union delivered three supersized letters calling for safe staffing legislation to the Department of Health and Social Care.

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