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Nursing staff urged to demand safe staffing legislation in England

“The right number of nursing staff with the right skills in the right place at the right time.”

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The Royal College of Nursing is calling on its members to support calls for safe staffing legislation in England.

The Royal College of Nursing is campaigning for safe nurse staffing levels to be enshrined in law across all four countries of the UK.

In 2016, Wales introduced the Nursing Staffing Act and Scotland is already moving towards the implementation of the Health and Care Staffing Bill.

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While there are no laws around safe nursing staffing numbers for England or Northern Ireland, last year Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said he would be “happy to look” at proposals.

Danielle Tiplady, RCN Member and Activist, said; “This piece of work is so important and I’m delighted to be involved from the very beginning.

“It is vital that this work is driven and led by members, we are the ones that work on the frontline and we are the ones that will know what will work.”

‘Right staff with the right skills’.

The Royal College of Nursing is calling for a clear workforce strategy, the right number of nursing staff with the right skills in the right place at the right time and ensuring there are enough nursing staff to meet the changing needs of the population

With 40,000 nursing vaccines in England, the union has already has warned that chronic staffing shortages could undermine the goals set out in the NHS Long Term plan.

Anne Marie Rafferty, RCN President, said: “The work in England is taking a really different approach, building on what we’ve learned from successful campaigning in Wales and Scotland. 

“We’re determined to secure safe staffing legislation across the UK, to ensure patients get the safe, quality care they need and deserve.”

Patricia Marquis, Director of RCN England, added: “I know how passionate our members are and harnessing this passion to create and drive change will be pivotal to this campaign. 

“I can’t script what we will be doing, but I know that there will be opportunities for each and every member of the RCN to get involved and create a legacy that will change staffing in England forever.”  

Workforce

Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.

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Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.

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Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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Workforce

NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.

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Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”

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With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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