Victoria's shortage of nurses will be aggravated if the State Government dispenses with its world-renowned system of nurse-patient ratios, according to new research.
A Sydney University report warned yesterday that removing the standard of five nurses to 20 patients in major Melbourne hospitals would precipitate a staff exodus from Victoria's health service.
The study, commissioned by the Australian Nursing Federation, found more than half of Victoria's ageing nursing workforce would consider quitting, retiring early or cutting hours if the ratios were abolished.
The study, by the Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training, precedes important talks between the ANF and the State Government on Friday and a meeting of nurses next Wednesday, when their current agreement expires.
The nurses want an ambit 24 per cent pay rise over three years and ratios extended to suburban and regional hospitals.
The Government is sticking to its wage policy of 9 per cent over three years with any extra to be offset by productivity gains.
The report's chief author, John Buchanan, said 1753 public-sector nurses from a survey of 4000 had responded. They "clearly indicated" that the ratio system underpinned the revival of the Victorian health service. "Any removal of the ratios is likely to result in the system slipping from a stable-but-critical condition to one of chronic crisis," he said.
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