CNOs to support creation of Wales nursing workforce plan

The UK and Ireland’s most senior nurses will meet this week to discuss the future of nursing in Wales, it has been announced.

National chief nursing officers (CNOs) for England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland, alongside executive directors of nursing and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), are set to meet tomorrow (30 January).

“The key issues for the nursing workforce are fair pay and safe and effective working environments”

Sandy Harding

This meeting, a forum set up by Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW), will see the top UK and Irish nurses support the creation of a strategic nursing workforce plan for Wales.

HEIW said the meeting was the first of its kind in Wales, as it had never hosted all five CNOs before.

Sandy Harding, RCN Wales associate directing of nursing, policy and professional practice, described it as “unprecedented”.

She added: “[The event] signifies a pivotal stride towards fostering collaboration and addressing the shared challenges confronting the nursing workforce and to contribute to the formulation of an NHS Wales strategic nursing workforce plan.

“We know from our recent member survey that the key issues for the nursing workforce are fair pay and safe and effective working environments, as well as flexible working and support for career development.

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“RCN Wales looks forward to working in partnership to develop a strategy that delivers on these and makes Wales the place of choice to practice nursing.”

Work on the strategic nursing workforce plan begun around a year ago, and is being created to “ensure a sustainable supply of competent, caring, engaged nurses to meet the needs of NHS Wales”, according to a publication by HEIW.

The plan will, the organisation said, build on NHS Wales’ nursing retention plan and the work by the Welsh Government and RCN to implement safer staffing legislation in the country’s health service.

It was set up in response to high nurse vacancies, and recruitment and retention failing to keep up with a large increase in demand for NHS services.

Five priority areas underpin the plan: demand and supply modelling for the nursing workforce, increasing the number of nursing students and graduates, embedding good practice in retention, international recruitment and developing the nursing support workforce.

It is scheduled to be completed by March 2024.

HEIW executive director of nurse and health professional education Lisa Llewelyn added: “We are pleased to be hosting this important event which will provide an opportunity to explore and influence the future role of nurses to meet the needs of our population.”

As well as the forum, HEIW recently hosted a “big conversation” campaign, which acted as a public consultation into the workforce plan for anyone in the profession.

HEIW has also been creating strategic workforce plans for dentistry, perinatal healthcare, primary care, pharmacy and mental health.

The latest updates on the nursing workforce plan follow an announcement earlier this month from the Welsh Government that it intended to introduce nursing associates to Wales.

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