Queensland makes ratios law

Queensland lives will be saved after a historic health initiative successfully passed Parliament tonight.

Queensland Nurses’ Union (QNU) said the Hospital and Health Boards (Safe Nurse-To-Patient and Midwife-To-Patient Ratios) Amendment Bill 2015 would now make it mandatory for public hospitals to provide safe nurse and midwife to patient ratios. Ratios will be phased in throughout the state from 1 July 2016.

At the moment there are no laws that state how many patients can safely be allocated to a single nurse or midwife. For every patient added to a nurse’s workload, there is a seven per cent increase in the likelihood the inpatient could die.

“Queensland has tonight become only the fourth government in the world to legislate historic nurse to patient ratios,’’ Ms Mohle said.

“At the moment nurses in America’s most populous city of New York are campaigning hard to have similar laws considered in their state.

“This world-leading Queensland legislation will save lives that need not be lost. International evidence concludes patient mortality rates and outcomes are directly linked to nurse numbers and the level of care each patient receives.

“We welcome a new era of transparency under which hospitals will be required by law to install safe nurse to patient ratios and should be required to publicly report patient outcomes and adverse events.

“Ratios will also result in significant cost savings through reduced health care costs, retaining staff and reducing patient complications and adverse events.

“I would like to thank all Members of Parliament who supported this ground breaking legislation with special mention to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Health Minister Cameron Dick for their leadership.’’

Ms Mohle said the QNU would continue to work with Queensland Health to make the transition to ratios as smooth as possible.

“Queensland nurses, midwives and the Queensland Nurses’ Union have fought long and hard to better protect their patients so this is a historic day for us,’’ she said.

“Effective implementation of this legislation will be a marathon effort, not a sprint and we will continue to work very closely with Queensland Health to ensure patients get the best possible outcomes.’’

The move to improve patient safety and better protect Queenslanders in every electorate was supported by all parties and independent Members of Parliament except the LNP.

Nurse ratio legislation was passed in the Victorian Parliament on 8 October 2015 and in Wales in February this year. California became the first government in the world to introduce the laws in 2004 after a 13-year campaign by the California Nurses’ Association.

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