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Safe-staffing ratios for nurses and midwives in Australia has led to better care and a happier workforce

Mandated minimum staffing for nurses and midwives in Victoria, Australia has rejuvenated the workforce and improved patient safety
Campaign for safe staffing in Australia

Mandated minimum staffing for nurses and midwives in Victoria, Australia has rejuvenated the workforce and improved patient safety

We – the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation's Victorian branch – started campaigning for nurse and midwife staffing ratios in 1999 when there was chronic and systemic understaffing in our public hospitals. Workloads were untenable, which was dangerous for patients and staff.

This created a Catch-22 effect; nurses and midwives resigned from understaffed wards because they could not cope with the stress of being unable to provide safe care, and hospital management had to bring in expensive agency staff. This meant permanent nurses and midwives were paid less, even though they had more responsibility.

Opposition to mandated staffing

Those who opposed mandated staffing levels said it would be impossible to get enough nurses and midwives to meet the ratios – it was estimated

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