The Guardian August 29, 2001


Victorian nurses win nurse/patient ratios

More than 2000 Victorian public sector nurses attending a state-wide 
stopwork meeting last week voted to accept a deal that will cement the 
world's first nurse/patient ratios. The meeting was held at Moonee Valley 
Racecourse after week long marathon talks between the Australian Nursing 
Federation (ANF), the State Government and the Victorian Hospitals' 
Industrial Association.

ANF State Secretary Belinda Morieson said, "This is a major victory for 
Victorian nurses, the public hospital system and for patients. Victoria is 
now the first place in the world that has cemented nurse/patient ratios 
which means public hospital patients in existing and new services will now 
be cared for by a mandated, safe minimum number of nurses on each shift."

The ANF stressed all along that the dispute was not about higher wages for 
nurses but about safe staffing levels for patients, and nurses being able 
to provide high quality, skilled patient care.

The union pointed out that the Government was now leading the world in the 
delivery of public health care in a system which will become a model for 
other States in Australia and other countries looking for a guaranteed way 
to reverse the chronic nurse shortages and reduce patient waiting lists.

The nurses accepted some modifications to the original nurse/patient ratios 
handed down by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in August 
last year. Importantly the new deal includes new nurse/patient ratios in 
speciality areas such as aged care, coronary care and rehabilitation wards 
where nurses have never had ratios before.

"We were able to keep the 1:4 ratio on the morning and afternoon shifts in 
the major metropolitan hospitals' clinical and surgical wards", said Ms 
Morieson. "The modified ratios mean only a slightly higher ratio for some 
speciality wards and a slightly higher ratio in the afternoon at regional 
hospitals."

The overwhelming majority of nurses voted for the new deal. The ratios will 
come into effect on September 24.

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