HEALTH SUPPORT: Photographed with Queensland nurses (pre-social distancing) Keppel MP Brittany Lauga (middle) is proud of how her government has worked to improve nurse-to-patient ratios.
HEALTH SUPPORT: Photographed with Queensland nurses (pre-social distancing) Keppel MP Brittany Lauga (middle) is proud of how her government has worked to improve nurse-to-patient ratios.

Nurse-to-patient ratio laws are saving CQ lives

HAVING enough nurses to look after their patients is an evidence-based, cost effective way to improve the safety and quality of healthcare – something the Queensland Government recognised before signing nurse-to-patient ratios in law in 2016.

In the first stage of the law’s implementation, the minimum number of nurses in relation to the number of patients on a ward (legislated ratios) was one nurse to four patients (1:4) for morning and afternoon shifts and one nurse to seven patients (1:7) for night shifts.

Speaking after the successful passing of the legislation, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declared it “a win for both patients and nurses in our great public hospitals”.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union Secretary Beth Mohle and Dr Matthew McHugh from University of Pennsylvania discussing nurse-to-patient ratio reforms last July. (AAP Image/Claudia Baxter)
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union Secretary Beth Mohle and Dr Matthew McHugh from University of Pennsylvania discussing nurse-to-patient ratio reforms last July. (AAP Image/Claudia Baxter)

“Patients will get better care as this sets minimum standards for nursing care in hospitals and nurses will have more manageable, safer workloads and increased job satisfaction,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Examining Queensland’s legislated staffing ratios, the first ever evaluation of nurse-to-patient ratios in the world was released last year, revealing that 145 lives and up to $81 million taxpayer dollars have been saved since the laws were introduced.

Four years on from the introduction of nurse-to-patient ratios, Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said Queensland was now among the world’s leading health carers.

On July 9, Ms Lauga will host a “thankyou” morning tea for about 30 staff at the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre.

MP Brittany Lauga and Jaye Tomkin giving free coffee to health workers at Yeppoon Hospital.
MP Brittany Lauga and Jaye Tomkin giving free coffee to health workers at Yeppoon Hospital.

She expected the issue of nurse-to-patient ratios to be discussed.

“The Palaszczuk Government is pleased and proud to have supported patient safety by legislating minimum nurse-to-patient ratios,” Ms Lauga said.

“This was a historic decision and puts Queensland well up on the ladder of global healthcare standards.”

Since July 1, 2016, nurse-to-patient ratios have been prescribed in acute, medical and surgical wards across 27 Queensland public hospitals, guaranteeing minimum staffing levels and improving patient care.

“I continue to work with the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union towards mandated minimum safe staffing requirements to be rolled out across all nursing and midwifery services in Queensland – public or private or aged care.

“In November 2019 the Palaszczuk Government passed legislation to establish minimum nurse-to-patient nursing hours for Queensland’s 16 state aged care facilities.

“I’m pleased to be able to meet with many aged care staff on Thursday and personally thank them for their care and dedication,” she said.