Home | Industry & Reform | New nurse-to-patient ratios on the table for Victoria

New nurse-to-patient ratios on the table for Victoria

Victorians will get hundreds more nurses and midwives if changes to nurse-to-patient ratios are voted through parliament.

The Labor Government announced plans to make amendments to the Safe Patient Care (Nurse to Patient and Midwife to Patient Ratios) that will see an additional 600 nurses and midwives employed in public hospitals across Victoria.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) said the amendments trigger the first new ratio introductions and improvements since 2007.

The state government said ratios will be increased across palliative care, birthing suites and special care nurseries, as well as during peak times in emergency department resuscitation cubicles.

New ratios would also be introduced in acute stroke units, haematology wards and acute inpatient oncology.

To be introduced into the Parliament in August, the amendments also involve the staged removal of the act of rounding down staff numbers if beds or cubicles are not divisible by the prescribed ratio.

Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters: “Hospitals ... will round up and provide additional staff in favour of the nurse and the nursing team, rather than in favour of, I suppose, the bottom line.”

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said hospitals' ability to round down has caused enormous stress and pressure on nurses and midwives.

“These improvements are visionary and critical,” Fitzpatrick said.

The union said it understands that the first clinical areas to benefit from the additional nurses will be general and medical wards on all shifts in level one and two hospitals. Level three and four hospitals and residential aged care will see additional nurses on night shift. All clinical areas that round down nurse and midwifery numbers will benefit over the next five years.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy said: “The evidence is clear – allowing nurses and midwives more time to devote to their patients means safer and better care.”

ANMF (Vic Branch) urged all Victorian parliamentarians to pass the Bill.

Fitzpatrick said: “Victorian nurses and midwives strongly urge all Victorian parliamentarians support this amendment so we can get on with implementation, continue to work on further improvements, and future-proof our health system in Victoria as the demand on it continues to increase.”

If re-elected, the Labor Government would also fork out $50 million for a Nursing and Midwifery Workforce Development Fund to expand the existing Registered Nurse and Midwife Graduate Program and establish a graduate program for Enrolled Nurses for the first time.

It will also include $10 million for grants, scholarships, graduate jobs and refresher programs for rural and regional students and current nurses and midwives.

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