Nurse / Patient Ratios

I’m currently receiving multiple ‘same question’ emails from nurses re my position on nurse / patient ratios, obviously part of a well-orchestrated campaign, not that I have anything against that, or nurses!

I note WA nurses are campaigning strongly for a 1:4 nurse to patient ratio, while not professing to be any sort of expert in hospital management, it is a relatively easy task to call up world wide research into nurse patient ratios, although a touch time consuming.

Several USA based  research papers demonstrate irrefutable statistical proof that hospitals with a nurse patient ration of 1:8 have five more deaths per 1,000 patients than hospitals with a 1:4 ratio.

However in some ways, there is no correct answer – some low risk hospitals  or wards, are perfectly safe and manageable on a 1:8  ratio, while ICU units may well require a ratio of 1:1 0r 1:2 and  palliative care units may work very well on a 1:6 0r 1:8 ratio.

Other factors include wards where post-operative patients regularly  arrive  throughout the day, different days may mean a heavy operation schedule requires a nurse patient ratio of 1:2, rather than a normal 1:4. Staggered shift starts are one method of dealing with this issue.

The WA Nurses Federation makes an interesting point in that nurse / patient ratios go out the window with patients stacked in corridors – I’ve experienced this as a patient and  witnessed it as a friend, I suspect corridor stacking is rife in Perth, through no fault of medical staff.

I realise, through financial mismanagement by the Liberal Party and an unwillingness by WA Liberals to take on the insanity of the GST carve up (which the Liberal Party was responsible for),  money is very tight and best practise simply may not be immediately possible. However my thoughts are that we should set immediate targets and long term (three year targets, as follows:

  1. All major hospitals and private hospitals to immediately (with a three month grace period – to locate staff) to introduce a 1:6 nurse patient ratio for wards other than ICU.
  2. All ICU wards to immediately introduce (with a three month grace period to locate staff) a 1:3 ratio
  3. All wards on busy post-op days to immediately introduce 1:3 ratios (a three month grace period to secure staff)
  4. All major hospitals, public and private, to introduce 1:4 standard nurse /patient ratios within three years.
  5. The absurdity of nurse (all medical staff), paying for parking at hospitals, must immediately cease. It is gouging people for whom public transport is of little value.

Greg Ross

Vote Greg Ross 1 for Midland



Comments are closed.