PLEASE EXPLAIN: Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett with Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle at Bundaberg Hospital.
PLEASE EXPLAIN: Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett with Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle at Bundaberg Hospital. Contributed

Health Minister defends proposed nursing ratios

HEALTH Minister Cameron Dick has defended the State Government's proposed nurse-to-patient ratios, saying research from around the world had shown the targets to work.

Mr Dick was responding to Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle, who called on the government to explain its policy while on a visit to Bundaberg Hospital this week.

"During estimates in August, I asked the health minister about the current modelling for nurse-patient ratios to better understand how they intend to meet the new target," Mr McArdle said.

"The minister refused to provide the modelling, raising serious questions about what research or scientific evidence Labor is using to determine its policy.

"The health minister also refused to provide the data needed to understand how the ratio was decided upon, including re-admission rates, infection rates, morbidity rates and mortality rates.

"If the nurse-patient ratio is the cornerstone of the government's policy, it beggars belief the health minister is unable to provide any evidence to back up his own policy."

A spokesperson for the health minister said the proposed minimum nurse-to-patient ratios were one nurse to four patients for morning and afternoon shifts, and one nurse to seven patients overnight in wards, units or facilities that provide acute care in prescribed facilities in public hospitals.

The spokesperson said hospital and health services already used the Business Planning Framework - an industrially mandated instrument in place since 2011 - to calculate staffing ratios to provide an appropriate, professional and safe standard of service.

Mr Dick said there was "extensive" peer-reviewed research from more than 32 countries in the past 20 years demonstrating the positive effect of nursing numbers on patient, clinical and economic outcomes.

"This research - recorded in the British Medical Journal, the Journal of Advanced Nursing, the International Journal of Nursing Studies and more - proves appropriate nurse-to-patient ratios improve patient safety, reduce re-admissions, reduce adverse events and improve care outcomes," he said.



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