British Columbia’s Ministry of Health has established nurse-to-patient ratios that will be used in hospitals across the province to improve workload standards.

The new standards set the minimum number of nurses required for six specific areas of care, including general medicine and intensive care.

With this move, B.C. becomes the first province in Canada to implement minimum nurse-to-patient ratios. It also makes good on a provincial commitment to the B.C. Nurses’ Union (BCNU), with minimum ratios a key plank of contract negotiations last year.

Health Minister Adrian Dix has previously said setting nurse-to-patient ratios is “the leading international practice” for retaining nurses and delivering quality health care.

The six new minimum nurse-to-patient ratios are:

  • Palliative: one nurse to three patients

  • Focused care: one nurse to three patients

  • High acuity/step down: one nurse to two patients

  • Intensive care: one nurse to one patient

  • Rehabilitation: one nurse to five patients during the day and evening, and one nurse to seven patients at night

The ratios were set in collaboration with the BCNU and follow similar models in Australia and California.

The Ministry of Health has also committed $237.6 million to support the new minimum ratios and help retain, recruit and train nurses in B.C.

The ministry said it will continue to work with the BCNU to set ratios for any remaining hospital settings, as well as long-term care, assisted living and other non-hospital settings.

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By admin