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What is the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016?

Two young nurses

The Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 became law in March 2016 and requires health service bodies to have regard for the provision of appropriate nurse staffing levels. This is to ensure their nurses have the time to provide the best possible care for patients.

Wales is proud to be the first country in Europe to legislate on nurse staffing levels. The Act will empower nurses and ward managers with the evidence to support and inform their professional judgement when determining nurse staffing levels on their wards. 

From 6 April 2018, in accordance with the Act, NHS Wales organisations have a duty to use the triangulated approach to calculate the nurse staffing levels in adult acute medical and surgical inpatient areas, take all reasonable steps to maintain the nurse staffing levels and report compliance in maintaining the nurse staffing levels as a means of providing assurance to the public, the Board and Welsh Government.

In accordance with the Act and following a period of consultation, the Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, released statutory guidance in November 2017 to support NHS Wales in meeting the requirement to calculate and maintain the nurse staffing levels within adult acute medical and surgical inpatient areas.

NHS Wales have also devised operational guidance to support teams which has been implemented within health boards and trusts across Wales.