Nurse & Midwife To Patient Ratios To Be Enshrined In Law

11 February 2020

The Andrews Labor Government will this week introduce landmark legislation to guarantee minimum numbers of nurses and midwives to care for Victorian patients.

The Safe Patient Care (Nurse to Patient and Midwife to Patient Ratios) Bill 2015 will ensure quality care and better outcomes for patients.

Worldwide evidence shows a direct correlation between nursing staffing levels and better nursing-related patient outcomes, such as reduced falls and pressure ulcers.

Under the legislation, the ratios for the number of nurses and midwives per patient currently set out in the nurses’ Public Sector Enterprise Agreement will be retained, and will apply where the Enterprise Agreement is in place.

This includes certain wards within the Victorian public health services, public hospitals, publicly operated denominational hospitals and multi-purpose services, and residential aged care facilities. They will not apply to private and not-for-profit hospitals, residential aged care facilities and public mental health services not covered by the Agreement.

The legislation also provides flexibility for health services to reconfigure nurse and midwife staffing and roster arrangements to ensure the best utilisation of available nurses and midwives to maintain high quality care.

These will be the most comprehensive laws protecting staffing levels and patient safety at public hospitals anywhere in world.

Nurse to patient and midwife to patient ratios were first introduced in 2000, however the former Liberal Government tried to remove them during the last Enterprise Agreement negotiations.

Quality patient care isn’t something to be bargained with. By preserving ratios in law, they will be protected during future bargaining agreements and safe from the risk of being stripped away by future governments.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

"We are delivering on our election commitment and supporting our hardworking nurses and midwives to do what they do best – care for our loved ones."

"Patient care isn’t something to be bargained with. We’re introducing new laws to take nurse and midwife to patient ratios off the bargaining table once and for all."

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

"Our nurses and midwives work tirelessly to care for our loved ones and these laws will ensure patients receive the best care possible."

"We are setting in stone the number of nurses working on each shift, so patients receive the highest quality and safest care."

Reviewed 26 June 2020

Was this page helpful?