Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Tina Donnelly, Director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, have joined forces in a press conference today calling for Wales to become the first country in the UK to establish a legal duty for safe nurse staffing levels in hospital wards.
In December, Kirsty Williams AM was successful in the National Assembly's ballot to introduce backbench legislation. Her proposed bill calls for minimum nursing levels to be enshrined in law.
Assembly Members will vote on the proposed bill on the 5th March. If the vote passes, then the proposed bill will progress to committee stage where it will be properly scrutinised. If Assembly Members vote it down, then the bill will effectively end before it has started.
Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
"We have three weeks left to make the case for this bill to progress to the next stage. I want Wales to lead the way in being the first country in the UK to establish a legal duty for safe nurse staffing levels. Such a move has been proven to improve patient outcomes.
"The vote on March 5th isn't a case of whether Assembly Members support the proposed bill or not. It is about whether they are willing to allow the debate on this important issue to continue. That is all we are asking for.
"This significant change has the potential to transform the quality of care provided in the Welsh NHS. Nurses who have fewer patients to tend are able to spend a greater amount of time with each patient and as a result can provide better care."
Tina Donnelly, Director of the Royal College of Nurses in Wales, said:
"A Minimum nurse staffing levels bill emphasises that nursing staff need to be given time to perform their role to their highest caring ability. Determining an optimal level of staffing to deliver good quality care is complex and needs to take account of the setting, the acuity of the patients and the skill mix and experience of the staff. We are therefore pleased that Kirsty Williams is mindful to also include a requirement for the regulations to address the complexity of patients' needs and on the skills mix in a hospital."