Is the Cabinet Secretary confident that all health boards in Wales are able to meet the standards as set out in the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016?
The Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act was designed with a long lead-in time to enable Health Boards to prepare for the implications on workforce planning. The first duty – 25A: Duty to have regard to providing sufficient nurses – has been in place since April 2017, and the implementation of the Act has been captured in the last two Integrated Medium Term Plan frameworks.
The All-Wales Professional Nurse Staffing Group has been working closely with all health boards to ensure their readiness for the second duty coming into force in April 2018, and with the Statutory Guidance published on November second, I am confident that health boards will be compliant with the Act in line with that timetable.
It is well known that the Act is being implemented at a time of global shortage in nurse staff. The Train Work Live marketing campaign is supporting NHS Wales to address current challenges around nurse recruitment. Since May of this year, the nurse campaign has generated a significant amount of interest from qualified nurses considering a career in Wales.
We know that recruitment alone is not the solution which is why we continue to invest in the education and training of nurses across Wales. Our £107m package to support education and training programmes for healthcare professionals in Wales, announced on 8th December represents a £12m increase on the package agreed for 2017/18 and will enable more than 3500 new students to join those already studying healthcare education programmes across Wales.
This package includes a 10% increase in the number of nurse training places – an extra 161 – which will be commissioned in 2018/19. This is in addition to the 13% increase in 2017/18, the 10% increase in 2016/17 and the 22% increase in 2015/16 and continues our investment in nurse education numbers.