Page 1845 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022

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and ACT Health more broadly. That is good; that is necessary. It holds the government’s feet to the fire and it allows those of us on the crossbench to provide an alternative view and a different perspective.

I must absolutely underline the fact to anybody listening to the debate today—not to excuse or to forgive shortcomings in our healthcare system—that there is nowhere in the world I could think of where you would rather live if you were in an emergency and you desperately required high quality health care by empathetic, highly trained and well-paid staff than here in the ACT, and I am proud of that.

MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (3.27): I would like to speak in support of Minister Stephen-Smith’s amendment. Just last week, Mr Parton criticised Mr Davis for bringing forward a motion that called on the government to do work that we were already doing. But I am very happy today that, in that spirit of collaboration, Ms Castley has also brought forward a motion that calls on us to do work that we are already doing.

I am very happy to be one of the Greens and Labor MLAs who committed to nurse-patient ratios in 2020, and this is why. It is because appropriate staffing ratios lead to better outcomes for patients, they help to avoid the need for further treatment and they protect the welfare of nursing staff, including our mental health nurses.

The nurse and midwife to patient ratios framework is being implemented in a phased approach, and that began on 1 February 2022, as Minister Stephen-Smith has discussed in some detail. The mental health units that are included in phase 1 of the ratios are ward 12B, the adult mental health and the mental health short-stay units at Canberra Health Services, and adult mental health, the Acacia and older persons mental health units at Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce.

The recruitment of mental health nurses continues to be a challenge locally, nationally and internationally, but our health services are working hard to continue recruiting and onboarding staff. As at 31 March 2022, nursing actually had the lowest vacancy rate across all of the professions within mental health, justice health and alcohol and drug services, at 6.18 per cent.

All mental health units that are included in phase 1 have met the requirements of the ACT public sector nursing and midwifery safe care staffing framework. The extensive recruiting and onboarding work that has been undertaken by our health services during a period of staffing shortages is to be commended, and I thank everyone involved for the work that they have done to make sure that we have as many people as possible on shift for every shift.

There is a strong body of evidence that indicates that nursing ratios improve clinical care and outcomes for patients. Patients benefit from appropriately staffed clinical teams, and they have their needs met with proper expertise and appropriately constituted teams. They are also an investment. High quality care saves money in the

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