Laws Passed To Boost Nurse And Midwife Ratios

The Andrews Labor Government has delivered on its pledge to give nurses and midwives the laws they need to deliver the highest quality of care for Victorians.

New legislation passed Parliament today to enshrine improved minimum nurse and midwife to patient ratios in law – improvements that will see an extra 600 nurses and midwives employed in Victorian public hospitals.

The amendments to the Safe Patient Care (Nurse to Patient and Midwife to Patient Ratios) Act 2015 mean the number of nurses and midwives on a variety of shifts will be rounded up – instead of down – removing a loophole that meant staff were often carrying a workload up to 50 per cent higher than the prescribed ratio.

Nurses and midwives can now devote more time to each patient, with safer care and better health outcomes.

Ratios will be improved in palliative care, birthing suites and special care nurseries, as well as during peak times in emergency department resuscitation cubicles.

Victorians suffering from stroke, blood disease and cancer will have more nurses caring for them, with new ratios in acute stroke units, haematology wards and acute inpatient oncology.

We will now go a step further and start work on more amendments to the Act that will deliver an extra 500 nurses and midwives – taking the total to 1,100.

The Labor Government will also deliver on its commitment to create a $50 million Nursing and Midwifery Workforce Development Fund, which will expand the existing Registered Nurse and Midwife Graduate Program and establish a graduate program for Enrolled Nurses for the first time.

This will employ 400 newly graduated Enrolled Nurses over the next four years, meaning Victorians will be able to study a Diploma of Nursing at TAFE – one of the Labor Government’s free priority TAFE courses – then start work as an enrolled nurse once they graduate.

The Fund will also provide up to 400 postgraduate scholarships for current nurses and midwives to upgrade their skills, 400 places in programs such as the Postgraduate Midwifery Employment Program, as well as refresher programs for 800 nurses and midwives currently registered but not practising, so they can re-enter the workforce.

It will also include $10 million for grants, scholarships, graduate jobs and refreshers for regional students and current nurses and midwives.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“Our fantastic nurses and midwives work hard to look after us when we are at our most vulnerable. We’re supporting them with the pay and conditions they deserve, so they can work safely and well.”

“The evidence is clear – nurses and midwives who can spend more time with each patient give higher quality care in a safer environment, helping people recover and get back to their lives more quickly.”

“We promised we would deliver 1,100 new nurses and we’re not wasting a minute. These changes mean an extra 600 nurses on our wards and there are more to come, as we build a stronger and safer system.”