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  • Nursing workforce standards: Supporting a safe and effective nursing workforce (RCN, 10 May 2021)

    • UK
    • Standards and regulations
    • Pre-existing
    • Original author
    • No
    • Royal College of Nursing
    • 10/05/21
    • Health and care staff, Patient safety leads


    The Royal College of Nursing (RCN)’s 'Nursing Workforce Standards' have been created to explicitly set out what must happen within workplaces to ensure the delivery of safe and effective patient care.

    The RCN's Nursing Workforce Standards are the first ever blueprint for tackling the nursing staff shortage levels across the UK. They set the standard for excellent patient care and nursing support in all settings, and all UK countries.

    Developed by the RCN's Professional Nursing Committee, the Nursing Workforce Standards suggest a roadmap for designing a workforce in both the NHS and the wider health and social care sector that can offer patients the quality of care they deserve.

    The 14 standards – the first of their kind – have been designed for use by those who fund, plan, commission, design, review and provide services which require a nursing workforce. They can also be used to help nursing staff understand what they should expect to be in place to enable them to do their jobs safely and effectively.  

    The standards apply across the whole of the UK and to every setting where nursing care is delivered. They’re being launched as new polling reveals seven in 10 people believe there are too few nurses to provide safe care. Of the 1,752 members of the public who were surveyed, more than a quarter said they felt themselves or their families may not get the care required when needed.


    The standards are grouped into three themes. They are:

    • Responsibility and accountability – outlining where the responsibility and accountability lie within an organisation for setting, reviewing, and taking decisions and action on staffing levels and skill mix.
    • Clinical leadership and safety – outlining the needs of nurse leaders with professional responsibility for teams, their role in workforce planning and the professional development of staff. 
    • Health, safety and wellbeing – outlining what’s needed to support nursing staff to provide the highest quality of care, including safe shift working, the ability to raise concerns and the right to work in a safe environment that prioritises staff wellbeing. 
    Nursing workforce standards: Supporting a safe and effective nursing workforce (RCN, 10 May 2021) https://www.rcn.org.uk/professional-development/nursing-workforce-standards
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