Since 2019, a series of phased improvements to public sector hospital and aged care ratios have been implemented as a result of the Andrews Government’s amendments to the Safe Patient Care Act 2015. The first amendment came into effect in March 2019 and the second in November 2020.
The scheduled improvements from the Amendment Act 2019 have now been fully implemented. The final stage of improvements from the Amendment Act 2020 begin in July 2023. This Act fulfils the Andrews Government’s 2018 election promise to further improve ratios and introduce new ratios.
Ratio improvements commencing July 2023
Phase two: stage 5 – Safe Patient Care Amendment Act 2020
50% Rule removal
Morning shift in:
- aged high-care residential wards
The removal of the 50 per cent rule will mean that, if the ratio does not divide equally into the number of beds, and you have a fractional amount left over, you need to round up to another full staff member.
- Level 3 hospital general surgical and medical wards (night shift) + in charge
currently no plus in charge
- Birthing suites (afternoon shift) + in charge if six or more nominated suites
currently no in charge
- Geriatric evaluation management beds (night shift) + in charge
currently no plus in charge
Further details of the Amendment Act 2019 and Amendment Act 2020 improvements can be found at anmfvic.asn.au/ratiosnf.
Upcoming ratio improvements
As mentioned, the above amendments were a part of the Andrews Government’s 2018 election commitments. As part of its 2022 election commitments, the government committed to a third round of improvements to and expansion of legislated minimum nursing and midwifery staffing levels in public hospitals. These new commitments are scheduled to begin from 2024 onwards and include:
- 1:1 on the morning shift (currently 1:3) in Level 1 hospital ED resuscitation bays
- Formalise the ‘accepted practice’ 1:1 ICU ratio for all shifts in level 1 and level 2 ICUs.
- Team leader (resource nurses) in addition to the prescribed ratios in level 1 and level 2 ICUs.
- Liaison nurse in addition to prescribed ratios in level 1 and level 2 ICUs.
- Night duty in charge in standalone high-dependency units and coronary care units.
- Postnatal night shift ratios will be 1:4 (currently 1:6) in Level 4, 5 and 6 services under the Safer Care Victoria Maternity Capability Framework.
Also scheduled to begin from 2024 is a trial of rostering a registered nurse in a neonatal support role per ward above the postnatal ratio on all shifts in three pilot health services (selected from a range of Maternity Capability Framework Level 4, 5 and 6 services). This trial aims to expose more nurses to midwifery to encourage them to consider midwifery studies as well as assisting in the care of the neonate.
In addition to the above changes, the Andrews Government has also committed a $69 million package to increase the hours maternal and child health (MCH) nurses can spend with families, from 6.75 hours per child to eight hours per child.