• Petitioned Elizabeth Miller

This petition was delivered to:

State Member for Bentleigh
Elizabeth Miller
Victorian Health Minister
David Davis
Victorian Premier
Ted Baillieu

Premier Baillieu: save and improve nurse/midwife patient ratios

    1. Petition by

      Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch)

If you or a loved one ever need to go to hospital - who looks after you, their qualifications and how much time they have to spend caring for you matters. Victoria's Baillieu Government is planning to turn the health system into a lottery by ending safe mandated minimum nurses/midwife patient ratios. Australian and international research shows patients suffer preventable complications and die when nursing numbers are reduced.

If ratios go, nurses and midwives will go.
The Victorian public sector nurses’ and midwives’ enterprise bargaining negotiations with the Baillieu Government are at an impasse because nurses and midwives will not agree to trade away guaranteed minimum nurse/midwife patient ratios and their patients’ safety. 

Despite a 2010 election promise to maintain nurse patient ratios in their current form the Baillieu Government wants to end nurse/midwife patient ratios. The Government’s own estimates show that by having less nurses and midwives it will save $473 million by 2016*. The Government wants to substitute nurses and midwives, who have a minimum of three-years training, with health assistants, who have three-months training. The end of guaranteed minimum staffing levels will affect every Victorian who may need to go to hospital - and that’s all of us.

What you should know about this dispute:

It’s about the Baillieu Government cutting Victoria’s health budget
Despite promising to open 800 new beds in Victorian public hospitals in its first term, the Baillieu Government plans to cut $473 million* from the nursing budget by 2016 by reducing the number of hours worked by nurses and midwives. The Government will replace qualified nurses with health assistants as part of the ratio and replace nurses’ and midwives’ eight-hour shifts with unlimited four-hour shifts and split shifts.

Nurse/midwife to patient ratios will exist on paper only
Mandated minimum nurse/midwife ratios will not exist under the Government’s proposal because an employer can at any time roster less nursing hours than the ratios require. On paper the ratio might be 1: 4 or seven nurses for a 28-bed ward. When two nurses are replaced with health assistants and one nurse is on a short shift, qualified nursing numbers will dwindle to five and then four for those 28 patients instead of seven.

Replacing nurses with health assistants will impact the quality of care
Unregistered health assistants have only three-months TAFE training compared to registered nurses who have three-years university education. Research demonstrates the quality of care patients receive, as well as whether they live, is linked to the number of qualified nurses on the ward. Receiving nursing care in hospital should not be a lottery.

Nurse/midwife patient ratios matter to patients
Australian researchers Professors of Nursing Diane Twigg and Christine Duffield, together with international researchers, have proven lower nursing numbers are linked to poorer patient outcomes with complications such as higher rates of infection, deep vein thrombosis, sepsis and pressure ulcers.

Nurse/midwife patient ratios matter to nurses and midwives
Minimum nurse/midwife patient ratios quarantine a transparent nursing and midwifery budget and prevent systemic understaffing at our hospitals. This is one of the main reasons why Victoria does not have a critical nurse and midwife shortage.

Victoria’s politicians do not use public hospitals, they go to private hospitals
Few, if any, politicians would be one of the 1,539,738** patients treated in our public hospitals in the last year. Yet their decisions will lead to longer waiting times, compromised care and nurse/midwife workforce shortages for those who do use public hospitals.

Fair Work Australia, the independent umpire, can’t make decisions about ratios
Nurses and midwives can’t ask Fair Work Australia (FWA) to sort this out because it has no power to determine the numbers, qualifications or hours of work of employees in public hospitals. The Baillieu Government is relying on this as outlined in its leaked cabinet document signed by Health Minister David Davis in May 2011 and published in The Sunday Age on 6 November 2011. Read the article and cabinet document at  www.tiny.cc/9822k

Many Victorian nurses & midwives earn 18.5 per cent less than NSW nurses & midwives
A degree qualified registered nurse with three years experience working Monday to Friday day shift earns $52,600 gross. A vocationally-qualified enrolled nurse with three years experience earns $44,400. Additional rates apply for working unsociable hours such as night shift and weekends. A hospital cleaner earns $38,000.

The Baillieu Government’s 2.5 per cent wages policy is below inflation. The Government is yet to make nurses and midwives a formal wage offer. It's 2.5 per cent wages policy does not exist in writing. Nurses and midwives have refused to agree to lower staffing levels to pay for their wage rise. 

The Baillieu Government has pushed nurses and midwives into a corner
Why doesn’t the Government want the dispute fixed? Nurses and midwives have worked with safe patient ratios for 12 years. Thousands of nurses and midwives are now considering resigning from permanent employment because the Baillieu Government’s plan to end ratios means they won’t have the time to safely care for patients.  Nurses will be held responsible for mistakes made by health assistants. This will place nurses’ and midwives’ registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) at risk. If they stay, their workload will double and patients will receive sub-standard care. 

If a negotiated agreement is not reached – it’s back to the 1990s
Nurses and midwives will begin leaving the system in droves as they did in the 1990s when there were no nurse/midwife patient ratios. Some will change career. Some will work for nursing agencies and earn up to 80 per cent more for doing the same work in the same hospital, but without the continuity of care that makes their work rewarding and safer for patients. Hundreds of public hospital beds will be closed permanently. Health assistants will replace nurses resulting in increased patient mortality and morbidity. The quality of patients care in the Victorian public health system will drop dramatically. This could be the outcome for you or one of your loved ones. It is not worth the risk. 

*Cabinet-in-Confidence Nurses Enterprise Bargaining Strategy, signed by Health Minister David Davis, May 2011 

**Victorian Health Services Performance Report 2010 – 2011, page 9 





Recent signatures


    1. Reached 25,000 signatures
    2. Stoppages to start tomorrow at Ballarat, Maroondah and St Vincents Hospital

      Nurses and midwives to implement Baillieu's world of Clayton's ratios

      About 1200 nurses and midwives participated in stoppages this morning outside Geelong Hospital, Frankston Hospital, Northern Hospital, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Dandenong Hospital and Western Hospital (Footscray).

      Stoppages will take place outside these six hospitals again this afternoon.

      Ballarat, Maroondah and St Vincent's hospitals' nurses, midwives and mental health nurses will join the rolling stoppages tomorrow (Sunday 26 February 2012) leaving night duty staffing levels on the wards as they escalate their fight to save safe mandated minimum nurse/midwife patient ratios.

      It has been 108 days since conciliation talks between the parties began in Fair Work Australia. ANF is seeking a stronger conciliation process with an agreed senior tribunal member who can resolve all issues.

    3. Stoppages to start tomorrow at Frankston, Geelong & Northern Hospitals

      Nurses and midwives to implement Baillieu's world of Clayton's ratios

      Geelong, Frankston and The Northern Hospital nurses, midwives and mental health nurses will join the rolling stoppages tomorrow (Saturday 25 February 2012) leaving night duty staffing levels on the wards as they escalate their fight to save safe mandated minimum nurse/midwife patient ratios.

      These hospitals will join Royal Melbourne Hospital, Dandenong Hospital and Western Hospital (Footscray) who began their stoppages this morning and will hold stoppages this evening from 5pm (see times below).

      The action escalates as public support continues to grow for the nurses' and midwives' fight to stop the Baillieu Government introducing substandard patient care by ending mandated minimum nurse/midwife patient ratios.

      Rolling four-hour stoppages will continue twice a day at all six hospitals until there is a resolution to the dispute. Three new metropolitan or regional hospitals will be announced every day.

    4. Reached 15,000 signatures
    5. ANF condemns Baillieu Government for inflaming rather than fixing dispute

      The ANF (Vic Branch) has condemned the Baillieu Government for inflaming the nurses' dispute rather than agreeing to allow the independent umpire to resolve the eight-month dispute.

      Baillieu Government lawyers, who have already cost the Victorian taxpayer more than one million dollars, have made an application to Fair Work Australia for Stop Orders to prevent any industrial action by nurses, midwives and mental health nurses until 22 August 2012.

      ANF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: "The Baillieu Government doesn't need expensive lawyers to stop tomorrow's industrial action. Agreeing to allow a process that will enable Fair Work Australia to resolve the issues will fix this dispute.

      "Why is the Baillieu Government trying to drag on the dispute for another six months?" she said.

    6. Vic nurses call on Baillieu Gov to agree new FWA opportunity to fix dispute

      Victorian public sector nurses, midwives and mental health nurses are calling on the Baillieu Government to agree to Federal Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten's proposal to participate in the process enabling the independent umpire, Fair Work Australia, to fix the dispute.

      The process would involve all parties agreeing on a single Fair Work Australia tribunal member to facilitate negotiations until a resolution is reached. This is how the Victorian nurses' enterprise agreements were resolved in 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2007 (took six days).

      Victorian public sector nurses, midwives and mental health nurses have given the Baillieu
      Government until 5pm tomorrow to agree to the proposed Fair Work Australia process or they will take unprotected industrial action as they escalate their fight to protect safe patient care in public hospitals.

    7. Reached 12,500 signatures
    8. Nurses and midwives to doorknock Victoria's most marginal electorate

      Nurses and midwives will descend on Victoria's most marginal seat to talk to the residents of Bentleigh about how they will be directly affected by the Baillieu Government's plan to end safe nurse/midwife patient ratios in public hospitals.

      On Saturday 11 February nurses and midwives will doorknock the entire electorate of Elizabeth Miller MP, a former nurse, who holds her seat by just 262 votes.

      The Australian Nursing Federation (Victorian Branch) has more than 600 members in this electorate.

      ANF (Vic Branch) Lisa Fitzpatrick said: "Nurses and midwives want to talk directly to the people of Victoria and let them know that if they lose their fight to keep safe staffing levels then patients will lose their lives.

      "We're doorknocking in the most marginal Liberal-held electorate as a reminder to this Government that it was elected to build the health system not destroy it," she said.

    9. Baillieu's health lottery: bed audit 1516 Victorian hospital beds closed

      The Baillieu Government had more than one and a half thousand public hospital beds closed across Victoria between 23 December 2011 and 25 January 2012.

      The figure is more than double the number of beds nurses closed during the peak of their industrial action between 12 and 26 November 2011.

      The beds, closed for all or part of the period between 23 December 2011 and 25 January 2012, included intensive care beds, paediatric beds, surgical beds, coronary care beds and sub-acute beds.

      The Australian Nursing Federation (Victorian Branch) will publish the ‘Baillieu Government bed closure toll' regularly to ensure transparency and accountability in the lead up to any ‘new bed' announcements the Government makes to fulfil its election promise to open 800 new hospital beds.


    Reasons for signing

    • inga kolm SUNBURY, AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      These nurses are the back bone of our nation,giving,caring,and supporting when we become ill. Give them what they want, there services are invaluable.

    • Essie-jane Fillon SKYE MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      Nurses play an important part in our health system, they work hard to give quality care and have outstanding knowledge skills in all aspects of medical care. Nurses study and research a lot in which reflect a high respect in our profession. Never disregard what nurses do by changing their work condition from fair to poor. Respect Nurses Work to give quality care to our community. Respect Nurses Work because we save lives and care for the communitys' love ones...

    • Melanie Campen ACT, AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      I am signing because of multiple horrifying experiences in public hospitals. After being rushed to hospital in an ambulence my husband and other patients lined hallways and were left virtually unattended for hours. Once receiving a bed I joked it was like a big waiting room, after nine hours we left after being told to get a referral from a GP for a neurologist- he was a GP

      • over 2 years ago

      I have used Hospitals about 9 times in the last 4 years and Know the relevance of what the Nurses are saying

    • Tracey Lee NEW FARM, AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      The acuity of health care is forever increasing and to provide that care safely it is only reasonable to expect that those providing that care will be adequately trained and supported. Safe care cannot be delivered by placing higher demands on RNs by increasing their patient rations and by replacing RNs with AIN's.


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