WA nurses have voted this afternoon to escalate their industrial campaign by closing down one in five hospital beds.
A mass meeting in West Perth attended by an estimated 800 nurses and midwives voted to start closing one in five beds in most public hospital wards, including emergency department cubicles.
They also voted to cancel one in five booked operations.
Exemptions include cancer, paediatric, maternity and intensive care patients.
The Australian Nursing Federation says beds will be closed down as patients are discharged.
Nurses are being told to strip the affected beds, place a 'bed closed' sign on them and refuse to accept any new patients to the beds.
A ward that normally has 35 beds would be reduced to 28 beds, while a five bed ward would be reduced to four beds.
Director-general of health Kim Snowball said the action by nurses was irresponsible given there was still more than four months before their current wages agreement expired.He said as soon as any of the threatened moves to close beds started his department would be "straight into the Industrial Relations Commission."