The West

A patient waits in a corridor at Fremantle Hospital.

WA nurses say patients' lives are being put at risk because so-called "corridor care" has become widespread in hospitals across Perth.

The Australian Nursing Federation has supplied _The Weekend West _with several photographs showing patients on beds in corridors, positioned next to what appears to be cleaning equipment, linen supplies and pamphlet displays.

It says the photos were taken at Royal Perth, Sir Charles Gairdner and Fremantle hospitals in recent weeks and de-identified to protect patient privacy.

The union is investigating several grievance notices from nurses, who say they feel unsafe caring for patients without ready access to medical equipment such as oxygen, with one upset about having to do a dialysis procedure while a patient was in a corridor.

Union secretary Mark Olson said hospitals were regularly going "over-census" in wards, often to maintain a target to clear emergency department patients within four hours.

A patient flow sheet from Fremantle Hospital dated six weeks ago instructs nurses how to "co-ordinate the move of corridor patients into beds" and "actively pull (patients) before the four-hour target".

Mr Olson said the State Government was allowing seriously ill patients to be put in dangerous and humiliating situations rather than receiving treatment in appropriately equipped rooms.

"These vulnerable people often have no nurse assigned because they are kept outside rooms so wards can deal with having more than the regulated quota per nurse," he said.

"These 'over-census' patients do not have any privacy or ready access to standard medical equipment, including call bells, oxygen or toilet facilities."

Mr Olson said a patient at Fremantle Hospital recently had a dialysis procedure known as continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis bag exchange in the middle of a corridor. At the same hospital, a stroke patient left in a thoroughfare for too long decided to go home.

A Health Department spokeswoman said Royal Perth and Fremantle hospitals prioritised getting patients from congested emergency departments into wards and sometimes this meant waiting outside a room if their bed was not ready. Other patients were moved into corridors on the way to the discharge lounge.

SCGH put patients into corridors, known as an "over-census location", during times of high demand in the emergency department, but its use had decreased last month, compared with the same time last year.

"We are committed to delivering safe and effective care to our patients and each is considered for appropriateness before they are transferred to a ward, and then monitored regularly," she said.

The West Australian

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