Plaid Cymru’s Luke Fletcher has urged the Welsh Government to commit to opening dialogue with the Royal College of Nursing Wales regarding an above-inflation pay offer for nurses following RCN Wales’s mandate to strike in all but one health board area in Wales.
During a Plaid Cymru debate, the Member of the Senedd for South Wales West focused on the need to extend Section 25b of the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016. This specific provision requires health boards and NHS trusts in Wales to take all reasonable steps to maintain a specified nurse staffing level.
In addition, health boards and trusts are required to inform the public of the levels of nursing staff on any ward covered by Section 25b. When the law was first passed, Section 25b only applied to acute adult medical and surgical wards. On 1st October 2021, it was extended to children’s wards.
During the debate, Luke called upon the Welsh Government to extend Section 25b to more settings where nursing care is provided.
During the debate, Luke said: “There have been repeated calls on the Welsh Government to commit to valuing our nursing workforce. In June 2021, sixteen organisations wrote to the First Minister to urge the Government to ensure safe nurse staffing and expand 25b to mental health in-patient wards and community settings.
“There were fewer patient incidents in that year where nursing had been considered a factor on wards covered by Section 25b, compared to 2019.
“Our nurses are doing everything they can to mitigate the issues, but, like everyone, they can’t be everywhere at once, no matter how much they want to be. What it comes down to is the need for better recruitment and retention.”
Regarding the historic strike action, Luke added: “Strike action has come as a last resort, as it always does. No matter what industry you’re in, nobody wants to strike.
“Government inaction to address the situation has left RCN members feeling like they have no other option, for the first time in their over 100-year history. A recent YouGov poll in Wales showed that 85 per cent of the public support a pay rise for nurses.
“Without a nursing workforce, the NHS cannot function. Without an above-inflation pay rise, improvements in service for patients will not be possible.”
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