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Ratios set to improve in 2022

Ratios set to improve in 2022

Premier Daniel Andrews and former health minister Jill Hennessy in 2018 announcing the ratio amendment legislation for new and improved ratios. Photograph by Chris Hopkins

The next stage of improvements to public sector hospital and aged care ratios is set to roll out in 2022. This will be the third round of improvements under dual amendments to the Safe Patient Care Act.

Coming in March is the removal of the 50 per cent rule from afternoon shifts in palliative care inpatient units, rehabilitation beds and geriatric evaluation management beds, as well as morning shifts in special care nurseries, neo-natal intensive care units, antenatal and postnatal wards and birthing suites.

In July, the 50 per cent rule will be removed from the afternoon shift in residential aged care wards and night shifts for rehabilitation beds. July will also see improved night shift ratios for general surgical and medical wards in level 2 hospitals, birthing suites, special care nurseries and postnatal wards – among other changes.

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.

These improvements are the result of the Andrews Government’s amendments to the Safe Patient Care (Nurse to Patient and Midwife to Patient Ratios) Act 2015. The Amendment Act 2019 includes the phase one amendments: phased removal of the 50 per cent rule, improvements to existing ratios, the creation of new ratios in a range of clinical settings and the introduction of other operational enhancements in the Act.

The Amendment Act 2020 includes the phase two amendments: the new 50 per cent rounding up methodology to shifts and wards, establishment of in-charge arrangements in a range of settings, new after-hours coordinator requirements for level 4 hospitals and the reclassification of Warrnambool hospital to a level 2 hospital. This Act fulfils the Andrews Government’s 2018 election promise to further improve ratios and introduce new ratios.

The first of these amendments commenced on 1 March 2021; they are being progressively introduced in stages until 2023.

The improvements over the five years will require more than 1100 additional nurses and midwives.

Ratio improvements coming in March 2022

Phase one: stage 4 – Safe Patient Care Amendment Act 2019


Afternoon shift in:

  • palliative care inpatient units
  • rehabilitation beds
  • geriatric evaluation management beds

Morning shift in:

  • special care nurseries
  • neo-natal intensive care units
  • antenatal and postnatal wards
  • birthing suites