Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) Government has initiated the first phase of a significant staffing reform designed to increase the number of frontline healthcare workers in the state’s public hospitals.  

This reform, known as the Safe Staffing Levels, is set to be implemented progressively until July 2027. 

The first two hospital sites to be covered under the first phase are Liverpool and Royal North Shore Hospitals. 

Recruitment efforts have begun at both hospitals, aiming to fill approximately 70 funded full-time equivalent (FTE) nursing positions across these two sites, with some nurses already in place. 

The staffing increase at both Liverpool and Royal North Shore Hospitals will facilitate a one-to-one nurse-to-patient ratio for occupied emergency department (ED) resuscitation beds during all shifts.  

Additionally, there will be one nurse for every three occupied ED treatment spaces and ED short-stay unit beds, ensuring consistent care throughout all shifts. 

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This initiative is a result of negotiations with the Safe Staffing Levels Taskforce, which was formed to supervise the government’s pledge to add 2,480 FTE positions over the next four years to improve staffing levels.  

Currently, the task force comprises key officials from the NSW Health, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, and local health districts. 

With the Safe Staffing Level to be implemented in stages over the next three years, the initial focus will be on Level 5 and Level 6 EDs, which cater to the most critically ill patients and it will eventually extend to other hospitals and departments. 

According to the NSW government, these reforms are expected to enhance staff experiences as well as working conditions, thereby improving retention and capability within the healthcare system.  

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park said: “The safe staffing levels initiative involves the introduction of minimum staffing levels on every shift, which will result in more nurses and midwives employed in hospitals right across the state.  

“Importantly, this reform will deliver improved staffing numbers to provide care for patients while supporting our frontline healthcare staff. Safe Staffing Levels Taskforce will review this initial rollout at Liverpool and Royal North Shore EDs and use these experiences to help inform roll out at future sites.”