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Nursing campaign exposes the harsh reality of nurse shortage

RCN Wales projects message onto the Senedd #FelUnTîm

A new campaign by the Royal College of Nursing Wales (RCN), projected a direct message to the Welsh Government on iconic buildings across Cardiff last night.

The Royal College of Nursing Wales illuminated the Senedd, Pierhead and Principality Stadium to expose the harsh reality nurses face every day due to staff shortages.

The message read: “Nursing staff in Wales are short of 1,719 team members. It’s time to give Wales the full team of nurses we desperately need.”

Staff shortages in Wales mean that nurses need to work 34,284 hours of overtime every week to care for patients.

#ForTheFullTeam campaign is urging people to sign a petition demanding that nurse staffing legislation be extended. The petition needs to reach 10,000 signatures before it will be considered for a debate in the Senedd.

Wales was the first country in the UK to enshrine in law the duty of the NHS to provide safe and effective nursing care. There is even a special section in the law (25B) that specifies how to calculate the appropriate nursing level on medical and surgical inpatient wards in hospitals.

The #ForTheFullTeam campaign is calling on the Welsh Government to extend Section 25B to cover nursing in mental health inpatient wards and community nursing.

Richard Jones MBE, Chair of the RCN Wales Board said “Every day, nurses work tirelessly to take care of people, but we need to start taking better care of them.

“Research has shown that poor nurse staffing levels can increase mortality by up to 26 per cent – and there are 1,719 nursing staff vacancies in Wales. This means there aren’t enough nurses to provide the most safe and effective care for patients. Without a full team, lives may be put at risk.”

To raise awareness, RCN Wales have also produced a minute-long online video – featuring the voice of rugby legend Eddie Butler – launching during the Autumn Internationals to highlight the importance of having a full team on the rugby pitch, and on the recovery ward.

One nurse who is backing the campaign is George, 22, who works in intensive care and looks after critically ill patients in Wales.

He said: “I started working on intensive care in November 2020 during the second wave of the pandemic. We were short staffed then but got through it together.

“Going through the trauma of losing so many patients and working so hard brought us close together and I made close friends with a lot of the team.

“But this year almost all of those colleagues have left due to the stress of staffing levels. I work with agency staff and new starters that I don’t know. It is damaging for morale not to have a support network at work.”

George added: “I am supporting this campaign because I want the government to hear first-hand from staff on the front line what is really happening.”