On Wednesday 10th February the Welsh Assembly ruled to introduce the Liberal Democrat's proposed Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill. Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Lib Dems, had been tirelessly campaigning to introduce the new law. Welsh Lib Dems have now achieved a major step towards building a healthier society with a stronger Welsh NHS.
The new legislation means that Wales is the first country in Europe to introduce minimum staffing levels on acute hospital wards. The bill also has provision to extend to non-acute nursing and other areas of the NHS. Kirsty said:
‘This small but fundamental change in the way we staff our wards with nurses will undoubtedly save lives’.
Why the Legislation is needed
At the Gala Dinner of the Welsh Lib Dem’s Spring Conference Kirsty explained that during a visit to an admissions ward with a family member other patients were unhappy with the waiting times. The patient's anger was aimed at the UK Government, not realising that the NHS was devolved to the Welsh labour Government.
The visit allowed Kirsty to see at first hand the stress that the nurses were under due their understaffing. One nurse, who had been there long beyond the end of her 12.5 hour shift, pointed out that if a nurse made a mistake through exhaustion it would be they who would be held accountable.
Kirsty also pointed out that:
‘More staff nurses means health boards won't have to fork out for expensive agency nurses, saving our NHS money in the long run.’
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