The State Government has introduced landmark legislation for stronger nurse and midwife to patient ratios, guaranteeing an extra 600 nurses and midwives across our public hospitals.
Nurses and midwives have long been forced to trade pay and conditions to guarantee ratios to make sure they have enough time to spend with their patients. In 2015 Victoria became the first state to enshrine in law a minimum number of nurses and midwives in public hospitals.
These laws will now be strengthened, and ratios increased to provide more nurses and midwives in palliative care, birthing suites and special care nurseries, as well as during peak times in emergency department resuscitation cubicles. The number of nurses and midwives on a variety of shifts will be rounded up instead of down, ensuring the best care and safety for Victorian patients.
Victorians suffering from stroke, blood disease and cancer will also have more nurses to care for them with new ratios to be introduced in acute stroke units, haematology wards and acute inpatient oncology.
In addition, a new $50 million Nursing and Midwifery Workforce Development Fund will help more Victorians train as nurses or midwifes. The Fund will expand the existing Registered Nurse and Midwife Graduate Program, and establish a graduate program for Enrolled Nurses for the first time.
This will employ 400 Enrolled Nurses over the next four years, with 100 of these positions to be available to TAFE graduates from next year. After studying a Diploma of Nursing for free at TAFE, students can start working as enrolled nurses as soon as they graduate.
The Fund will also provide up to 400 postgraduate scholarships for current nurses and midwives to upgrade their skills, 400 places in programs such as the Postgraduate Midwifery Employment Program, and refresher programs for 800 registered nurses and midwives who are currently not practicing.