Page 408 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 22 March 2022

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leader nurse on the morning and afternoon shifts who will be there to support nurses in their clinical role. Nurses will be able to come to work knowing that there will be enough nurses working with them to provide the care that their patients need. On night shift, they will know that they have the best nurse-to-patient ratio in the country.

We know the nurses who work within a mandated ratio system feel a greater sense of satisfaction about their work, and they have more time to meet the individual needs of their patients. Ratios also reduce the risk of burnout, with research showing that nurses are more likely to stay working in a health service with mandated ratios.

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, can you please outline the timeline for hiring the additional staff required to meet these ratios?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Thank you, Mr Pettersson. And the government, of course, invested $50 million dollars in the ACT 21-22 budget to hire an additional 90 full-time equivalent nurses across our health system as part of the first phase of implementing nurse and midwife to patient ratios. The government worked closely with the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation to develop this first phase of ratios implementation. And this is set out in the latest ACT public sector nursing and midwifery enterprise bargaining agreement.

Implementation of phase 1 commenced from 1 February this year, and I am pleased to inform the Assembly that Canberra Hospital and that Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce have already recruited more than 50 of the target 90 additional full-time equivalent nursing staff. This is really a wonderful achievement, particularly give the challenges that have faced our health services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recruitment for phase 1 is expected to be completed by the end of this year—indeed, by the end of June. Nurses hired in the first phase will be working across 21 of our general medical, surgical and acute aged care wards as well as in our adult mental health units at both Canberra Health Services and Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce.

While we continue to work towards fully implementing phase 1 of ratios, we are also, Madam Speaker, now turning our attention to phase 2. Phase 2 will expand ratios into additional speciality areas such as women’s and children’s health, critical care, cancer, and more mental health units.

These areas will be determined in the next nursing and midwifery enterprise agreement, which we will begin negotiating in the very near future—indeed, some of those initial meetings have already taken place. We have begun consultation with nursing staff from both hospitals and their feedback on the implementation of phase 1 of ratios will inform how we progress into phase 2. I look forward to continuing to progress this very important Labor initiative.

DR PATERSON: Minister, what other programs and initiatives is the government implementing to improve the welfare of our healthcare staff?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Dr Paterson for the question, and it was great to get out to Calvary the other day to talk about ratios and to hear some of their experiences, and the feedback from Calvary themselves about what a difference ratios have made.

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