Nurse/Midwife-to-Patient Ratios

What are nurse/midwife to patient ratios?

The ACT Government is introducing mandated minimum nurse/midwife-to-patient ratios in 2021-22 as part of its commitment to providing better healthcare for Canberra and the region.

Nurse/midwife-to-patient ratios mean there is a mandated minimum number of nurses or midwives working on a particular ward, unit, or area in relation to the number of patients and these ratios vary with each ward.

The ratios will be implemented at both Canberra Health Services and Calvary Public Hospital Bruce.

The overall aim of implementing minimum staffing ratios is to:

  • support safe nursing/midwifery care, and
  • ensure resourcing for nursing and midwifery staff to provide safe care.

Implementing minimum staffing ratios will contribute to:

  • improved outcomes for patients, and
  • improved working conditions for nurses and midwives.

The implementation will occur in phases and will be incorporated into the ACT Public Sector Nursing and Midwifery Enterprise Agreements.

Phase 1 introduction

Phase 1 began on 1 February 2022 and is being implemented into general medical, surgical wards as well as acute aged care and adult mental health units.

Ratios for general medical/general surgical/acute aged care units

The minimum ratio is one nurse for every four patients during a morning or an evening shift.

During the night shift the minimum ratio is one nurse for every six patients.

There is also a supernumerary Nursing Team Leader on the morning and evening shift.

Ratios for adult mental health units

During morning/evening/night shift, the minimum ratio is one nurse for every two patients in a high-dependency unit/area.

In a morning or evening shift, the minimum ratio is one nurse for every four patients in a lower-dependency unit/area.

During a night shift, the minimum ratio is one nurse for every six patients.

There is also a supernumerary Nursing Team Leader on the morning and evening shift.

For more information, please email nurseratioframeworkproject@act.gov.au.

Nurse to patient ratios
Page last updated on: 23 Nov 2022