Key Industry Claims

Staff to Patient Ratios

The purpose of staff to patient ratios is to guarantee the delivery of safe, high quality scientific fertility services. The motivation to pursue this claim is based on the evidence that increasing investment in scientific services will lead to better outcomes for patients and a more productive and efficient healthcare system. As outlined in the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) Guidelines for Good Practice in IVF Laboratories (2015):

Personnel are one of the most important parts of an IVF laboratory. The number of laboratory staff should reflect the number of cycles performed per year. As an approximate guide, clinics that perform up to 150 retrievals and/or cryopreservation cycles per year should have always a minimum of two qualified clinical embryologists. This initial number will increase depending not only on the number of treatments, but also on the complexity of the procedures, techniques and tasks undertaken within the laboratory. Other duties such as administration, training, education, quality management and communication also need consideration.

National and international studies have irrefutably proven that the number, skill mix and work environment of scientists directly affects the safety and quality performance of health services.

PSA is working to:
  • Clarify staffing levels as a risk management issue in the RTAC Code of Practice
  • Ensure staffing levels as a critical criterion to be audited annually
  • Inclusion of an agreed benchmark method or methods for calculating the number of qualified fertility scientists required in an ART laboratory according to the number of cycles performed and other relevant factors be included in the RTAC Code of Practice Code, Enterprise Bargaining Agreements and workplace policy
  • Ensure employers recognise inadequate staffing levels as a serious occupational health and safety issue
Professional Registration
Fertility scientists are currently working under a system where anyone can claim to be a fertility scientist, provide scientific services, and use it in their marketing without any regulation.

To protect patients and the profession, a robust registration system must be designed, implemented, and enforced.

There is a huge risk to public health as operators are free to undertake scientific work without adequate skills or competencies.

Fertility scientists carry out highly complex work and it is appropriate – just like many other professions – that they demonstrate they can perform their work to a high standard. Registration ensures that only qualified, competent, and experienced professionals perform the scientific duties that many Australian’s rely on to deliver their dreams of having a family.

PSA is working to:
  • Develop a registration scheme that is robust, affordable, and practical
  • Build registration requirements into their Enterprise Bargaining Agreements and workplace policies • Include registration requirements in role descriptions and classification structures

Paid Leave for Research, Training and Professional Development
Fertility scientists carry out highly complex work, so it is important they maintain and enhance their knowledge and skills.

A PSA survey undertaken in February 2020 found the barriers to professional development suggests that a shift in workplace culture that values professional development as an investment in the organisation rather than as unproductive time may be needed. This kind of change management needs to be a priority that is led by the senior leadership team, incentivised, and embedded in management accountabilities. A failure to support the continuing professional development of staff is false economy – it leads to a workforce in which continuous improvement is compromised by lack of upskilling, skills can become out-of-date and the workforce can be marked by disaffection, lack of motivation, high staff turnover, loss of talent and burnout. Ultimately lack of commitment to professional development leads to a less sustainable and engaged workforce.

ART units should be committed to providing access to paid leave for, and adequate backup staffing to cover

  • attendance at relevant conferences; 
  • provision for study leave;
  • provision for independent research; and
  • external structured training in relevant administrative, communication, collaboration and other non-technical skills.
It is critical that provision for professional development is recognised by ART employers as vital to providing evidence of individuals' competency and ongoing training and education.

PSA is working to:
  • Include paid leave to access professional development, training and research in workplace policies and Enterprise Bargaining Agreements.
  • Provide accessible, affordable and relevant CPD for our members