Monday, June 24, 2024

ACT announces $86m investment in nurses and midwives

The ACT Government has announced $86 million will be allocated in the 2024-25 ACT Budget to recruit more than 137 new full-time equivalent nurses and midwives.

The Government says the investment will support the Territory’s commitment to implementing phase two of Mandated Minimum Nurse/Midwife-to-patient ratios.

Nurse and midwife to patient ratios are mandated minimum staffing levels that support safe nursing and midwifery care and improve working conditions for nurses and midwives.

The model includes both minimum staffing levels on each ward and additional team leaders or support nurses and midwives.

Developed in close consultation with the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation ACT, the implementation of phase two will ensure there are even more nurses and midwives across frontline hospital services and an appropriate skill mix on each shift to provide the best possible care for patients, including women and babies in maternity services.

“We are making record investments across the ACT public health system to ensure Canberrans can access the right care, when and where they need it,” said ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr.

“We’re opening the Critical Services Building at the Canberra Hospital, expanding services at our nurse-led Walk-in Centres and building more health centres.

“As we make these investments, we’re working to ensure we have a health workforce that is highly skilled and supported so they can continue to deliver great care to our community.”

In 2022, the ACT Government delivered the first phase of nurse-to-patient ratios across general medical and general surgical medical wards and acute aged care and mental health, investing $50 million through the 2021-22 Budget.

Phase Two ratios will be implemented across Canberra’s public hospitals and Clare Holland House, including:

  • Maternity services
  • Neonatal intensive care unit and special care nurseries
  • Critical care, including intensive care units and emergency departments
  • Perioperative areas
  • Subacute mental health units
  • Cancer services
  • Rehabilitation units
  • Palliative care services

By including ratios across maternity services, including postnatal wards, the ACT will be the second jurisdiction in Australia to implement ratios that count the baby in the ratio as part of minimum staffing levels, said Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith.

“The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation has advocated strongly on behalf of its members to see ratios delivered in the ACT. We will continue to work with the ANMF and other key stakeholders to ensure ratios are implemented effectively across our hospitals,” said Ms Stephen-Smith.

“Implementing ratios guarantees there will be more staff on the ward to provide care and ensures an increased skill mix on each shift. Staff feel safer with more team members on the ward and importantly, are able to spend more time focusing on individual patients.

“Midwives and nurses have advocated for many years to count the baby in ratios to ensure they can provide safe care to women and babies. We have listened to the voices of these midwives and nurses and will be implementing some of the most progressive changes to safer workloads in the country.

“The ACT Government remains committed to supporting nurses and midwives right across our ACT public health system.”

This investment follows the more than $21 million allocated in the mid-year Budget Review to support other elements of the proposed ACT Public Sector Nursing and Midwifery Enterprise Agreement, which is currently being considered by public health system nurses and midwives.

It includes a $2,000 education and development boost, an annual $750 professional development allowance, an increase in pay, and a comprehensive review of rostering in nursing and midwifery to improve work patterns and health and wellbeing.

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