Pressure from the Royal College of Nursing has led to the Scottish government publishing a timetable for the implementation of Scotland’s safe staffing legislation.
The timetable sets out a 21 month programme of work which will see the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act implemented for April 2024. Today’s announcement comes on the back of a commitment to RCN members from the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf MSP, at a meeting during RCN Congress in Glasgow earlier this month
It is three years since the Act was passed – the first legislation in the UK to set out requirements for safe staffing across both health and care services. It will place a statutory duty on health and social care providers to ensure sufficient staffing levels for patient care, will require the Scottish government to annually report on what they are doing to ensure sufficient staffing levels and will strengthen the rights of staff who have concerns around staffing.
Implementation was delayed as part of the pandemic response, but the COVID-19 crisis has only highlighted the reasons for passing the legislation and the need to ensure safe staffing levels across Scotland’s NHS and social care services.
Julie Lamberth, Chair, RCN Scotland Board said:
“RCN members’ campaigning heavily influenced and shaped this legislation. We could see the importance of getting this right for patients and care home residents and for the wellbeing of the workforce. It is disappointing that it has taken so long for the Scottish government to commit to implementation. And while we would like to see the Act implemented sooner, nursing staff will be pleased to now have a clear timetable.
“This legislation alone will not fix the nursing workforce crisis, it needs to sit alongside fair pay and improved terms, conditions and culture to ensure we can recruit and retain the nursing workforce Scotland needs.”
Eileen McKenna, Associate Director for Nursing, Policy and Professional Practice said:
“While it has taken longer than we would have liked to get to this point, and the timetable set out for implementation is lengthy, we are looking forward to engaging with Scottish government on the development of the guidance to support the legislation and through the testing and evaluation that will follow. We will focus on making sure that this ground-breaking and vital law works to deliver safe and effective care for patients and residents and improved working conditions for our members.”