This site is intended for health professionals only

RCN Wales urges new first minister to act on ‘three key areas’

RCN Wales urges new first minister to act on ‘three key areas’
Credit: Welsh Government

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Wales has written to the new first minister in Wales to highlight concerns surrounding staff numbers, training and the introduction of nursing associates.

In the letter, Helen Whyley, director of RCN Wales, urged first minister Vaughan Gething to ‘refresh his public commitment to safe and effective care’, which she said ‘would go a long way towards assuring nursing staff that his government will address the extreme pressures they are under’.

Ms Whyley called on Mr Gething to deliver on promises in the Welsh Government’s 2023/24 pay offer by ensuring there are enough nursing staff to deliver safe and effective care.

The letter also emphasised the need for the responsible introduction of registered nursing associates to Wales, as well as strategic investment in the education of nurses at all career stages.

‘What’s critical is that the first minister keeps nurses nursing in the NHS,’ said Ms Whyley.

‘That’s why he must make sure the Welsh Government keeps every promise it made to our members last year to end industrial action.’

She added: ‘Those important promises could make a real difference to nurses and to their patients. That’s why our members accepted them in good faith – but half a year later, they have yet to feel a difference.’

In January this year, the Welsh Government confirmed plans to introduce the nursing associate role to Wales, following its introduction in England in 2019.

Ms Whyley commented: ‘New nursing roles are fantastic, but patients need to understand what that means for them – and, crucially, they need to be funded properly.

‘Any risk to patient safety from registered nurses being inappropriately replaced is completely unacceptable. And this can’t become a distraction from getting the basics right, either.’

On professional training, Ms Whyley added: ‘A national strategy for commissioning nursing education, all the way from student to advanced and consultant level, would be a fitting ambition for a new first minister with a commitment to improving health.’

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘We remain committed to providing the NHS with the workforce it needs and the NHS workforce is at record levels. 

We are continuing to invest in the NHS Wales workforce and this year are investing £281m to increase the number of training places.’

They added that retaining staff was ‘equally as important as’ recruiting new staff and pointed to its National Workforce Implementation Plan, published last year.

‘The Welsh Government has and will continue to invest in the workforce required to support our health system in Wales,’ the spokesperson added.

‘We have continued to work in social partnership with all health trade unions and NHS Wales Employers to deliver the non-pay elements as agreed as part of the 23/24 pay offer.’

Vaughan Gething was appointed as the new first minister of Wales earlier this month after Mark Drakeford stepped down following five years in post.

See how our symptom tool can help you make better sense of patient presentations
Click here to search a symptom