Page 1842 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022

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MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (3.16): I am pleased to speak on behalf of the ACT Greens in support of Minister Stephen-Smith’s amendment to Ms Castley’s motion. I would like to thank Ms Castley most sincerely for her newfound support of the union movement and its advocacy for the safety of nurses and midwives in our hospitals. It is thanks to the union movement that minimum ratios are being implemented across the country, and I stand in solidarity with workers in their campaigns for workplace safety. We know that ratios save the lives of patients and significantly improve levels of occupational injury for nurses and midwives. I thank the union for making these structural workforce issues their problem and for again demonstrating the incredible social justice movement that unions represent.

The ACT Greens, along with our friends in ACT Labor, went to the 2020 election with a commitment to deliver minimum staffing ratios between nurses, midwives and their patients. I was proud to sign on to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s “ratios save lives” pledge that year. I did not see your signature on a pledge, Ms Castley, but I suppose that is all in the past. This was the beginning of a strong relationship between my office and the ANMF. I note that this pledge was not supported by any Canberra Liberals incumbent member or candidate—or the former shadow health minister.

Unlike the Liberals, the Greens are proud to stand with our city’s nurses, who want to be supported to provide the best possible care to our community. It was after speaking to comrades from the ANMF earlier today that I have reaffirmed the ACT Greens commitments to nurses, midwives and their patients, and to safety in our public hospitals.

I was thrilled to see the ANMF’s advocacy ratified in this year’s budget, despite the unprecedented strain upon our health system that COVID-19 has caused. Our nurses and our midwives are truly essential workers. They are our frontline workers, and they are feeling the effect as we enter now our third year of this pandemic. Indeed, these strains have made even more visible the need for ratios and the need for continuous improvement of workplace culture and supports for our frontline staff.

The benefits of nurse-to-patient ratios are well documented and well known. The ACT Greens know that quality health care can only be delivered with the right number and skill mix of nurses. We know that a higher level of nurse staffing is associated with a decrease in the risk of in-hospital mortality. We know that, for every increase of one nurse, patients are 14 per cent less likely to experience in-hospital mortality.

We know patients will also be less likely to experience an adverse event in units with a high nurse-to-patient ratio. This has important implications for both clinical practice and the optimisation of patient outcomes. Properly implemented ratios will ensure that there will always be the right number of nurses and midwives present to care for Canberrans and those who use our hospital services from the Canberra region.

We also know that a sophisticated, flexible and, importantly, nurse-led approach to the implementation of these ratios benefits everyone. Ratios are not only good for patients; they are good for nurses, too. They are important for workforce planning, for

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