Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 comes into force

Implementation date: 6 April 2017

The Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 introduces a duty on local health boards and NHS trusts in Wales to have regard to the importance of providing sufficient nurses to allow them time to care for patients sensitively when considering how many nurses are required to meet all reasonable requirements. This duty applies when local health boards and NHS trusts are providing nursing services themselves and when they are securing the provision of nursing services from third parties.

The Act places a duty on local health boards and NHS trusts in Wales to: calculate nurse staffing levels in adult acute medical and surgical in-patient wards; take all reasonable steps to maintain the staffing level that has been calculated for these wards; and make arrangements for informing patients of the nurse staffing level.

Under the Act, Welsh ministers must issue statutory guidance regarding the duty to calculate nurse staffing levels and the method of calculation, and it places a duty on local health boards and NHS trusts in Wales to have regard to that guidance. In addition, the Act requires health boards and trusts to submit a nurse staffing levels report every three years.

The new duties contained in the Act are commenced by the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 (Commencement) Order 2016 (SI 2016/829 (W208)) and are being introduced in three stages: the guidance on nurse staffing levels on 3 August 2016; the duty to have regard to providing sufficient nurses on 6 April 2017; and the duty to calculate and take steps to maintain nurse staffing levels on 6 April 2018.