In an about-time moment, a Bill has been introduced to see nurses, midwives and patients get a much better deal in hospital with reasonable and workable staff-to-patient ratios.
Greens MP and health spokesperson Cate Faehrmann has introduced a bill to legislate ratios into the NSW Upper House today which would mandate safe levels of staffing in public hospital emergency departments and wards across the state.
The Health Services Amendment (Nurse-to-Patient and Midwife-to-Patient Ratios) Bill 2022 is based upon the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association’s Ratios, Pay and Conditions Award Claim 2022 and consultation undertaken with the union.
A safe working environment
Ms Faehrmann said ratios will give the state’s nurses and midwives a safe working environment and ensure patients are receiving the care they need. ‘Nurses and midwives are at breaking point. If we don’t implement nurse-to-patient ratios we will see a mass exodus from our health system.
‘Chronic understaffing is dangerous for patients and it’s dangerous for nurses and midwives. The Greens will do what the other parties won’t and move to legislate ratios.
Ms Faehrmann said the Government loves to splash cash on new hospitals but when it comes to ensuring there are enough frontline healthcare workers to actually work in them it cries poor. ‘Throughout the regional health inquiry we heard of horrific situations caused by chronic understaffing in regional hospitals, like a single nurse being left to care for dozens of patients with sometimes deadly consequences.
‘We’ve seen in Queensland that ratios have not only saved lives but also reduced costs, with patients receiving better care being less likely to be readmitted.
‘Queensland, Victoria and the ACT have introduced nurse-to-patient ratios with the South Australian Government committed to doing it in their first term. There is no reason for NSW not to do the same.’
The Bill will:
- Implement the NSW Nurses and Midwives claims for minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in public hospitals.
- Introduce additional staffing requirements on particular wards for Triage Nurses, ACCESS Nurses and in Charge Nurses/Midwives.
- Require public reporting of hospitals fulfillment of nurse-to-patient ratio requirements
- Require NSW Health to work with the union to review current methods for calculating minimum staffing and care requirements in maternity services and outpatient wards.
- Also require NSW Health to work with the union to investigate implementing the Australian College of Perioperative Nurses (ACORN) Standards for Perioperative Nursing in Australia and the Australian College of Critical Care Nurses (ACCCN) Workforce Standards for Intensive Care Nursing.
A study by the Lancet found that between the introduction of nurse to patient ratios in Queensland in 2016 and 2018, ratios had:
- Saved $69 million over two years, more than twice the cost of hiring new staff.
- Reduced 30-day mortality rates by 7 per cent
- Reduced readmissions within 7 days by 7 per cent
- Seen patients leave hospital 3 per cent faster