Wales politics

Nurse numbers law plans to be scrutinised

Nurse generic Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams wants Wales to become the first part of the UK to set legal minimum staffing levels for nurses

Plans for a law requiring minimum staffing levels for nurses in Welsh hospitals are to be brought forward for closer scrutiny.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams said the legislation could "revolutionise healthcare" in Wales.

She said ensuring "the right number of staff" would allow them to do their job "in a way Welsh patients deserve".

Welsh ministers warned the legislation would need to clear "high and substantial hurdles" to become law.

Assembly members from all parties spoke in favour of allowing the Bill to be introduced to the assembly so its merits could be considered in detail.

Ms Williams won a ballot to introduce backbench legislation last December.

On Wednesday, she told AMs: "The RCN (Royal College of Nursing) Time for Care campaign launched in 2010 emphasised the importance of putting care at the heart of nursing.

"But to do this nursing staff need to be given time to perform their roles to the best of their ability to the standard that they've been trained to do so and in a way that Welsh patients deserve, and that means ensuring the right number of staff on our wards".

Responding, Health Minister Mark Drakeford said the Welsh government's position on the proposals was "one of scepticism".

"We are yet to be convinced that the legislative route is the best available in this case, or indeed that it might not be the author of a series of unintended consequences which could outweigh whatever merits might be claimed for it," he said.

Mr Drakeford warned that he believed the legislation would need to clear substantial hurdles to become law.

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