Doctors and nurses have complained of worsening "corridor care" in hospitals, which they blame on patients being offloaded in wards so that emergency departments can meet waiting-time targets.
They said the case this week of a patient being cared for in a corridor of a Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital surgical ward highlighted the pressure on emergency departments to clear patients to meet the four-hour rule target, and plans to cuts bed numbers would only worsen the situation.
Doctors claimed the patient had second-rate access to medical equipment, including bottled oxygen on wheels instead of the walled oxygen and suction in ward rooms.
But the hospital denied the issue was related to overcrowding, saying the patient was in the corridor because of being sent to the ward before a single room could be found.
Australian Nursing Federation state secretary Mark Olson said corridor care was becoming normal because the State Government was trying to push patients from emergency departments to hospitals wards that were full.
"It is unsafe and irresponsible to expect patients to be cared for in corridors, alcoves and storage rooms, and this corridor care is just another manoeuvre to get around the minimum nurse-to-patient ratios" he said.
Australian Medical Association WA president Richard Choong said it was disappointing that patients had to be treated in a corridor of a major teaching hospital in Perth.
"I'm worried this is reflective of the future if cuts continue at SCGH in respect to bed and staff numbers," Dr Choong said.
An SCGH spokeswoman said the patient was assessed and managed in the emergency department and had been cleared for transfer to a bed on the surgical ward.
A single room, which was clinically needed, had not been available as expected.
"The patient was placed in a safe isolated area on the surgical ward with full access to oxygen, emergency suction, call bell and a bathroom as a temporary measure while waiting for a single room to be vacated and cleaned," she said.
The spokeswoman said the error in the timing of the transfer from the emergency department was not related to waiting-time targets.