27 September 2023

Healthy numbers of nurses for patients

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Canberrans are to see more nurses in ACT hospitals as the Territory strikes a deal with the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation ACT (ANMF).

Announced by Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith, the establishment of new nurse-to-patient ratios are expected to improve patient care, reduce the risk of medical complications and improve occupational safety and job satisfaction for healthcare staff.

“Ratios mean there will be more nurses, and nurses with a greater range of skills, on critical shifts and wards at Canberra Hospital and Calvary Public Hospital Bruce,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“The minimum ratio for nurses or midwives to patients will depend on the clinical setting,” she said.

“The first phase of ratios agreed with the ANMF focuses on general medical, general surgical, acute aged care and the adult mental health units.”

Ms Stephen-Smith said a typical improvement would mean that a nurse on a day shift in a medical ward would care for four patients instead of five.

“We believe that ratios will play an important role in helping address the ongoing challenges that all health services face,” she said.

“Implementation of the first phase began on 1 February and will mean 90 new nurses are employed by mid-year, with more than 50 of these nurses already recruited.”

The Minister said the pandemic continued to present staffing challenges across the ACT health system, highlighting the importance of implementing nursing and midwifery ratios.

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