The Andrews Government has tabled draft legislation to improve and introduce new nurse/midwife ratios. The changes will mean an additional 600 nurses and midwives over the next five years.
The proposed bill will be debated in September. We are urging all parliamentarians to support the bill which will result in more nurses and midwives working in our Victorian public health system. If passed, the changes will be introduced from March 2019. We are working to ensure that the legislation is debated and passed by both houses of parliament by the last sitting date before the Andrews Government goes into pre-election caretaker mode.
This is a significant win for members and demonstrates the government’s respect for nurses, midwives and their patients. The process is a stark contrast to campaigning for nine months, closing beds, walking out of hospitals and more than 30 community rallies to save nurse/midwife patient ratios during the 2011/2012 Respect Our Work EBA.
We know there is much more to do. We are in discussions with the Andrews Government seeking commitments to more improvements.
If passed, and to ensure the nurses and midwives required to implement the improvements are available, the changes will be phased in over five years each March from 2019. Each phase has two key changes:
- changes to ratios – either improvements or the introduction of new ratios
- the removal of the ‘50% rule’. Where the number of beds is not divisible by the prescribed ratio, e.g. a 29-bed ward with a 1:4 ratio = 7.25 nurses, the number of nurses must always be rounded up, not down.
(Note: this bill was passed in the lower house on 6 September 2018, but lapsed in the upper house when 20 Coalition and independent MPs voted against extending time for debate.)