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Ratio improvements first bill introduced

Ratio improvements first bill introduced

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos at the ratio amendment bill announcement in December 2019. Photo Chris Hopkins

The ratio amendment bill was the first piece of legislation introduced to the lower house on the first day of the 59th Victorian Parliament.

The Andrews Government bill, tabled on 19 December 2018, is designed to improve and introduce new ratios into public health services across Victoria.

When passed early next year, the almost $250 million reform will mean an additional 611 nurses and midwives phased in over five years from March 2019 or once the bill receives royal assent.

A second round of ratio reform, promised by the Andrews Government, will lead to an additional 547 nurses and midwives.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the government would not waste any time delivering improved ratios and the additional nurses and midwives required to provide Victorians they care they deserved.

‘This will be the first bill introduced in this 59th parliament,’ Mr Andrews said, ‘It will be the first law passed by this Parliament in terms of delivering on our election commitments and doing the things we said we would do.’

New Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said ratio improvements would mean better care for mums giving birth, sick newborn babies, cancer and stroke patients and people presenting at emergency departments.

‘The evidence is clear – allowing nurses and midwives more time to spend with patients means better, safer care,’ she said.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said the government was making nurses’ and midwives’ workloads and patient care its priority by making sure ratio improvements was the first bill of the new Parliament.

‘Once again it’s very critical for us that election commitments that are made, are election commitments that are kept,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.

A previous ratio amendment bill was passed in Parliament’s lower house in September but lapsed in the upper house when Coalition and independent MPs voted against extending the time for debate.

The bill will be debated in the lower house when Parliament sits again in February. When passed by the lower house and the upper house, the phased improvements will come into effect from March 2019, with a six-month window for facilities to comply with the new Act.

The improvements will be phased in over five years to allow for recruitment and the development of workforce capacity including clinical specialties. The detailed phases are outlined in this ANMF newsflash.

The key proposed changes are:

  • the removal of the 50 per cent rule. Health services must always round up the number of nurses or midwives when the number of beds is not easily divisible. Applies to medical and surgical, emergency departments, coronary care, high dependency units, operating theatres, post anaesthetic recovery rooms, palliative care, geriatric evaluation management beds, special care nurseries, neonatal intensive care, antenatal and postnatal. Residential aged care wards in hospitals morning and afternoon shift and rehabilitation morning and afternoon shifts.
  • removal of the emergency department night duty formula
  • new ratios introduced in acute stroke, haematology and acute inpatient oncology wards
  • improved ratios in palliative care, birthing suites, special care nurseries, and emergency department resuscitation cubicles
  • inclusion of midwives in special care nurseries.