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Mental health ratios in high dependency units

The ratios that ANMF members fought for in public mental health as part of their 2016–20 EBA campaign are now operational in high dependency units.

The nurse staffing profiles that are mandated in high dependency units under the EBA are:

Number of beds Minimum number of nurses for HDU
1-2 beds one nurse
3-5 beds two nurses
6-7 beds three nurses
8-9 beds four nurses
10 beds or more one nurse per 2 beds

Ratios in the public mental health system would not have been possible without the action of thousands of ANMF public sector mental health nurses.

We also acknowledge Mental Health Minister Martin Foley and the Andrews Government, who listened to your claims and ensured that patients in the most acute mental health care environments will have access to mandated specialist nursing care.

ANMF recognises this is the first step in removing the differentiation between mental and physical health in accessing nursing care.

If a patient has a broken leg, cancer or heart problems (or other physical ill health) the certainty of nursing ratios applies under the Safe Patient Care Act 2015.

The introduction of ratios to high dependency units gives us hope that a re-elected Andrews Government will afford the same protections to all people admitted to mental health environments.

Public mental health nurses should be aware that their EBA has further clarified the definition of mental health high dependency units to ensure that any attempts to change a unit’s name does not result in ratios not needing to apply. Please see the definition in clause 92.4 of your enterprise agreement.

If your employer is not complying with their industrial obligations, please contact your ANMF Organiser on 9275 9333.