Page 563 - Week 02 - Thursday, 24 March 2022

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We know it is still hard for our staff right now. Our health services continue to work through every option available to ensure that our public health workforce can do what they do best. We will continue to do this work with and for our health workforce.

At the 2020 election we also committed to mandating minimum ratios for nursing and midwifery staff at Canberra Health Services and Calvary Public Hospital Bruce. I was pleased recently to mark the first phase of the nurse-patient ratios framework that is being implemented in our hospitals, taking a crucial step forward in commencing ratios in the ACT.

With more than 50 of the 90 FTE nursing staff brought on board to implement ratios, there has been significant progress in ensuring that we can meet the nurse-patient ratio that will increase staff support and patient care. We are just the third jurisdiction in Australia to mandate nursing and midwifery ratios, and we are incredibly proud to be joining Victoria and Queensland in implementing this very important initiative. It is a true Labor commitment that reflects our core values and shows our respect for the health workforce.

It is also a reflection of our commitment to work collaboratively with the unions that represent ACT public sector staff—in this case, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation ACT Branch. They have driven this initiative and I thank them for their important advocacy.

Recruitment and implementation is ongoing at the moment, but I look forward to seeing the full implementation of this commitment and meeting the many new nurses that are joining our teams as part of this work. The implementation of the nurse-patient ratios framework will result in many benefits to the territory, including better patient outcomes, improved patient satisfaction, reduced length of hospital stay, and reduced inpatient mortality. The guaranteed level and skill mix of staff on each shift will improve the management of the care environment and improve job satisfaction, which also contributes to a sustainable workforce.

Looking to the future of our public health workforce and ensuring that we have a sustainable plan, the ACT government has initiated the development of a health workforce strategy and plan. This work, being led by the ACT Health Directorate, will enable long-term workforce planning to occur in a structured and informed manner. The ACT health workforce strategy will outline the health workforce priorities and key initiatives that will guide the development of our ACT public health workforce into the future. This overarching strategy will incorporate and refer to national, local and profession-specific workforce plans and frameworks to ensure that we are sustainably planning for and growing an effective workforce that can meet the needs of Canberra and the surrounding regions.

In parallel, our health services are completing essential workforce planning at the local level to attract, recruit and retain staff for the future. Canberra Health Services has developed the Nursing and Midwifery Workforce Plan 2022-2023, which is due to be published in mid-April. Recruitment planning has commenced for the Canberra Hospital expansion critical services building, due to open in 2024, with a further

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