Warrnambool Base Hospital will have 17 more full-time nursing roles if the Labor government is re-elected.
The Andrews government will reclassify the hospital from a level three to level two, resulting in better nurse to patient ratios if it wins the November 24 election.
Wound management nurse practitioner Terry Swanson said South West Healthcare had been fighting since 2001 for the Warrnambool hospital to be reclassified.
“It’s very exciting news,” she said.
“What it means is that we go up to a level two so we improve our nurse-patient ratios.
“Nurse-patient ratios are a minimum staffing ratio, so nurses have so many patients per nurse.
“With a 50 per cent rule it means so many nurses on a shift have less patients to take care of so it improves the quality of patient care.
“The literature and the scientific evidence suggests that when you have improved nurse ratios you have higher retention of the staff currently working and you have better well-being, so besides the additional benefits of safe practice you have improved retention of nurses and the nurses feeling better and having better mental and physical health.”
A letter from Health Minister Jill Hennessy to Ms Swanson said nurses and midwives were highly valued and made a significant contribution to the health and well-being of all Victorians.
“This commitment will mean more nurses and better care for Warrnambool patients,” it said.
“I also recognise the important role played by South West Healthcare in providing essential healthcare services and opportunities for education and training of health professionals in western regional Victoria.”
Labor candidate Kylie Gaston said it was great news for the hospital.
“It certainly gives a huge boost to the hospital,” she said.
“It means about 17 full-time jobs being created in our region and ultimately of course better care for our community and looking after our staff who look after us. It’s fantastic news.”
Under the Safe Patient Care Act the reclassification means a level two hospital has to staff between one nurse to every four to eight patients, while a level three hospital has to staff one nurse between every five to 10 patients.
The operator of a level two hospital must staff a general medical or surgical ward on the morning shift with one nurse for every four patients and one nurse in charge.
On the afternoon shift there must be one nurse for every five patients and one nurse in charge.
On the night shift there must be one nurse for every eight patients.
Ms Hennessy said the Safe Patient Care Act had protected minimum workload arrangements, improved the working environments for nurses and midwives and contributed to safer patient care.