More Nurses needed

This is an article for the Glamorgan Gazette

Like the UK Parliament, the Welsh Assembly has a system whereby backbench members can bring forward their own legislation.

I took advantage of that, when I steered the first private members bill into law last year on the subject of Park Homes.

Now Kirsty Williams, who represents Brecon and Radnorshire is seeking to make Wales the first country in the UKto establish a legal duty for safe nurse staffing levels and I am backing her all the way.

Her idea, which was debated for the first time on 5th March seeks to enshrine minimum nurse staffing levels in law.

When I spoke in the debate, I referred to my meeting with nurses in Princess of Wales Hospital last month in which I learned of the day to day pressures being faced by staff as a result of inadequate cover.

Staff told me that often they were required to work ten hour shifts without having time for a comfort break or to eat, that the paperwork involved in admitting a patient could take an hour to complete and that there is little or no time for continuous professional development.

There is increasing evidence that under-staffed wards put unreasonable pressure on medical staff and that this can lead to mistakes or important tasks remaining undone. This pressure, together with the physical demands of the job can lead to high levels of sick and absence and this increases the strain nurses are put under.

I was pleased to learn that many of the issues raised by nurses are starting to be addressed in Princess of Wales Hospital. It is not always the number of nurses that matter but the skills mix, so that inexperienced staff are complemented and mentored by more seasoned nurses.

I believe that following the example of other countries and addressing Wales' poor ratio of nurses to beds by legislation will help to ensure a higher quality of care for patients and address some of the issues that have arisen in Welsh hospitals recently.

I urge everyone to visit www.morenurses.org.uk to make their voice heard.

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