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Second ratio amendments bill passes Parliament

Second ratio amendments bill passes Parliament

Former health minister Jenny Mikakos, nurse Mel Carron and ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick in June 2020 at the ratios amendment announcement.

The Andrews Government’s second ratio improvements bill since its re-election in November 2018 passed the Victorian Parliament on 10 November 2020.

The Safe Patient Care Amendment Bill 2020 changes will see more nurses and midwives across the state in public medical and surgical wards, birthing suites, post-natal wards, special care nursery, geriatric evaluation management, short stay units, rehabilitation, and public residential aged care.

The bill fulfils the Andrews Government 2018 election promise to further improve ratios, delivering an extra 542 nurses and midwives into public health services.

The amendments in the 2020 amendment bill will be phased in over two years concurrently with the 2019 amendments.

The amendments include applying the new 50% rule rounding up method to:

  • morning and afternoon shift in aged high care residential wards
  • night shift in rehabilitation wards
  • all shifts in acute stroke, haematology and oncology wards.
  • establishing in-charge arrangements in:
  • medical/surgical wards (level 1, 2 and 3 hospitals), postnatal wards, special care nurseries and geriatric evaluation management (GEM) wards on the night shift
  • birthing suites on the afternoon and night shift
  • short stay observation areas on the night shift where the SSO area is co-located with an emergency department listed in Schedule 3 Part 1 of the Act, and where the combined SSO and ED has 30 or more beds / treatment spaces.

Level 4 hospitals with one or two wards must staff the hospital with one after hours coordinator in addition to ratios if that hospital operates a nominated birthing suite or an emergency department with greater than 2500 presentations per year.

  • Warrnambool Hospital will be reclassified from a level 3 to a Level 2 hospital in Schedule 1 in response to evolving community need.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick welcomed the passing of the ratio amendment legislation.

‘For the second time since its re-election in November 2018, the Andrews Government has supported safe patient care and safer workloads for Victorian nurses and midwives, by introducing new ratios and improving ratios.

‘It is so reassuring to deal with a government that respects our members, to negotiate an enterprise bargaining agreement, as we did in 2020 and in 2016, and not have to fight to save our nurse/midwife to patient ratios.’

Ratio improvements coming in March

The third phase of improved ratios under the Safe Patient Care Amendment Bill 2018 will come into effect in public sector hospitals and aged care facilities from 1 March 2021.

To ensure the nurses and midwives required to implement the improvements are available, the changes under the bill, passed by the Victorian Parliament in February 2019, are being phased in over five years each March from 2019.

The phase 3 amendments are effective from 1 March 2021:

New ratio

New morning, afternoon and night shift ratios in level 1 emergency department resuscitation bays 1:1 (currently NO ratio)

50% rule removal

  1. Afternoon shifts in the following wards of level 3 and level 4 hospitals
    a. general medical or surgical wards
    b. coronary care units
    c. high dependency units
    d. operating theatres
    e. post-anaesthetic recovery rooms
  2. Morning shifts in:
    a. palliative care inpatient units
    b. rehabilitation beds and
    c. geriatric evaluation management beds
  3. Afternoon shifts in Level 2 emergency departments, and emergency departments with 5000-7000 presentations per annum
  4. Night shifts in:
    a) special care nurseries
    b) neo-natal intensive care units
    c) antenatal and postnatal wards
    d) birthing suites