The Andrews Government has introduced to Parliament the second tranche of improvements to nurse/midwife to patient ratios for public hospitals and public residential aged care.
The government introduced the Safe Patient Care Act 2015 amendment bill 2020 on 2 June.
If passed the 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.
Listen to Health Minister Jenny Mikakos describe how the ratio improvements will impact patient care in public hospitals.
The bill fulfils the Andrews Government 2018 election promise to further improve ratios, delivering an extra 542 nurses and midwives into public health services.
It is the government’s second ratio amendment bill in its current term. The first tranche of ratio improvements passed the Victorian Parliament in February 2019, requiring an extra 611 additional nurses and midwives for improvements being phased in each year from 2019 to 2023.
The amendments in the second bill will be phased in over two years concurrently with the 2019 amendments. The Andrews Government’s Safe Patient Care Act 2015 fulfilled a 2014 election promise to entrench Victoria’s nurse/midwife to patient ratios in legislation, after ANMF had fought to keep ratios during every enterprise agreement campaign since they were introduced in 2000.
ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said the latest proposed amendments demonstrated the Andrews Government understands ‘you can’t set and forget nursing and midwifery staffing levels’.
‘These proposed improvements are responsive to changes in care and demand. They also mean the government is listening to nurses and midwives about the time they need to provide safe, quality care.’
Proposed phase two amendments include:
- applying the new 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 hospital 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.
- reclassifying Warrnambool Hospital from a level 3 to a Level 2 hospital in Schedule 1 in response to evolving community need.
The Andrews Government 2018 election commitment also included enshrining current public sector mental health EBA staffing levels into the ratio legislation.
‘Mental health nurses have been waiting a long time to see their staffing levels legislated and we look forward to working with the government and HACSU to get this work done,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.