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Nursing workforce must keep pace with need under new nurse to patient ratio legislation

Posted 05 October 2015

Monday 5 October 2015

With the nurse to patient ratio Bill before Parliament’s Upper House for debate tomorrow, the Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA) has urged the Government to invest in strategies that will support the Bill’s successful implementation.  

VHA CEO Tom Symondson said that having now seen the Bill, he believes the Government has a role in supporting hospitals to comply with the legislation, including through investing in strategies that ensure Victoria’s nursing workforce keeps pace with need, particularly in rural areas where workforce shortages are often experienced.

“Although Victoria’s public hospitals already apply nurse to patient ratios, we want to ensure they can successfully implement and comply with the new legislation now and into the future,” Mr Symondson said.

“The new arrangements need to accommodate some of the practical, everyday hospital workforce challenges without compromising patient care. For example, small rural hospitals often face significant recruitment challenges, and all hospitals will need to accommodate circumstances such as when a nurse calls in sick.

“This is why it is crucial Victoria maintains a strong nursing workforce and especially important that health services are funded to recruit and retain an appropriately skilled nursing staff.

“The VHA looks forward to working with the Government as it supports health services to comply with the new legislation.”

Mr Symondson said another key matter impacting upon successful implementation of the legislation was the development of the regulations.

“We ask that the Government consult the sector as the regulations are developed to ensure they reflect the current nursing EBA arrangements that have been tried and tested,” Mr Symondson said.

“It is essential that Victorian hospitals are funded to maintain a strong and reliable health workforce to deliver safe, world-class care that is tailored to the needs of local communities.”

Media contact: Rachel White – 0438 815 561 rachel.white@vha.org.au

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