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Health and Social Care Bill 2022

The Health and Social Care Bill has received Royal Assent and is an Act of Parliament following its approval from the House of Commons and House of Lords.

However, the Bill does not address a number of key RCN member priorities, including the fact that Government is not legally required to tackle the nursing workforce crisis. We will shortly publish a summary of the Act, outlining what this means for nursing in England and what happens next. During the passage of the Bill through Parliament, RCN members supported and engaged in a range of campaigning activities, summarised below.

The story so far:

There are around 40,000 registered nurse vacancies in the NHS in England alone. But this is not just about the NHS; we want to make sure that the legislation legally requires action be taken on planning for the whole of the health, social care, and public health nursing workforce in England.  

The current situation is unsustainable and urgent action is needed to ensure there are enough nursing staff – now and in the future – for health and care services to cope with demand and provide safe care.

The RCN, in partnership with over 100 organisations, has been supporting a change to the Health and Care Bill which would ensure that the Government publishes an assessment of the workforce now and in the future.

Understanding the size and skills of the current workforce, as well as demand for health and care services, is an important part of what the RCN believes will bring about staffing for safe and effective care. However, long term projections must lead to concrete action. Which is why the RCN has called for the Secretary of State for Health and Care to have legal accountability for delivering staffing for safe and effective care.
Without this accountability for the workforce, nursing staff will continue to be overworked and overstretched, unable to deliver to patients the care they desperately want to give, and that patients deserve.

To address the nursing workforce crisis we are calling for:

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to have legal accountability for workforce planning and supply.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care must publish projections of the workforce needed to deliver health and social care services based on the expected needs of the population, now and in future.

This page will shortly be updated with a summary of the Act and what it means for nursing.