At children’s hospital wards in Wales, a law to safely fill nurses has come into force six months later than originally planned.
This means that there is now a legal obligation to calculate and maintain the number of nursing staff on pediatric wards according to a defined methodology.
Wales is the first country in Europe to introduce safe levels of care for children following the introduction of the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act in 2016.
This new regulation falls under Section 25B of the Act, which previously only applied to acute medical and surgical inpatient facilities for adults.
In recent years, the Welsh government has tried to expand them to inpatient children’s facilities and the original April 2021 target date has been postponed due to the pandemic.
After the initial delay, former head nurse Professor Jean White had said earlier this year she didn’t expect this to happen before 2022, but the change went into effect October 1.
Speaking on Friday, Welsh Minister for Health and Welfare, Eluned Morgan MS, said: “We are proud of this breakthrough legislation and the difference it has already made for nurses in Wales.
“The regulations that come into force today will extend the second duty of the law to residential children’s wards, and we are the first UK nation to do so.
“The purpose of the law is to enable frontline nurses and their managers to use their professional judgment in determining the appropriate staffing levels to ensure they are providing the best quality of care.”
RCN Wales Director Helen Whyley welcomed the development and tweeted, “Great to see them @WGHealthandCare today expand the staffing requirement of the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) in 2016 to include children’s wards. There is time for a quick expansion to all areas of care. The evidence base is clear that a secure workforce in the nursing staff saves lives. “
The Wales Commissioner for Children, Professor Sally Holland, welcomed the “additional guarantees for the care of children and young people”.
She added, “The government should now consider extending this to other facilities, including outpatient care and inpatient mental health facilities, as well as other pediatric facilities.”
According to the Welsh Parliament, work is continuing to seek to extend the law to mental health inpatient facilities, as well as health visits and district nursing.