Our Ratios campaign put safety in the spotlight
On 12 May 2016, the Queensland Parliament passed the Hospital and Health Boards (Safe Nurse-To-Patient, Midwife-To-Patient Ratios) Amendment Bill 2015, making our state only the fourth place in the world to legislate for minimum nurse-to-patient and midwife-to-patient ratios.
This was a major victory in our Ratios campaign and a great example of nurses
and midwives standing together, through the QNMU, to help drive genuine
positive change that benefits all Queenslanders.
Under the new Act, Queensland Health began rolling out minimum safe ratios in prescribed
acute wards from 1 July 2016.
The QNMU is working collaboratively with QH to
ensure ratios are implemented smoothly.
Of course, the new ratios bill won’t fix everything overnight. The important point however – is that a guarantee has been set, and the
evidence and testimony of Queensland’s nurses and midwives has been
heard and heeded.
To visit our Ratios Campaign website click here
This is just the beginning
Our ultimate goal is to rein in unsafe workloads and improve patient safety across all sectors and all settings.
Patients, nurses and midwives in every private and public ward, in every
mental health facility and maternity ward, every aged care home and
children’s ward deserve an assurance they will be safe.
Our members want to care for their patients better but all to often they just don’t have the time or resources to do so. They worry about their patients; they worry about being tired and about being overstretched.
In private hospitals and aged care facilities, a focus on profits
often means there are not enough nurses and midwives available to
provide safe patient and resident care. And fewer nurses mean
more work for those who remain. Overworked nurses skip meal breaks, work excessive overtime, work double shifts, rush through their work to fit it all in. None of this is safe.
Mandatory ratios can help. It will ensure that health services always have the right number of
nurses and the right skill mix for the number of patients or residents
Our campaign is a marathon not a sprint, but we are certainly off to a great start.
Current state of play
Achieving legislated ratios in the public sector is a pretty big reform … and like all reforms, it’s going to take some time for the dust to settle.
The QNMU is working with nurses, midwives and managers at the local level to ensure ratios are being rolled out correctly.
Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have teamed with the Queensland University of Technology and Queensland Health to undertake a series of studies on the success of ratios, and to evaluate what impact it’s had on patients, nurses and midwives.
This research will be integral to our campaign to see legislated ratios rolled out in other sectors, including private hospitals and aged care facilities.
Perhaps most exciting, however, is what our members have been telling us about the difference ratios are already making to their workloads…
“You know that anxiety and sick feeling and of burning at your throat you get every shift? Well I don’t get that now.”
“We now have more time to scrum and discuss complex issues like wounds.”
“We know more about the patients … you feel like you’re actually nursing, actually giving good nursing care.”
“I actually went to the toilet the other day!”