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Cleaner orderlies put care at risk: Opp n
Cleaner orderlies put care at risk: Opp'n

Patients at a Perth hospital are at risk of second-class care with staff shortages forcing cleaners to act as orderlies, the State Opposition claims.

Opposition health spokesman Roger Cook said staff at Armadale-Kelmscott Hospital in the city's southern suburbs had complained to him that cleaners were often performing tasks usually undertaken by orderlies.

They were filling in when orderlies did not turn up to work because of illness or other reasons.

"Instead of sourcing other orderlies to fill the staffing gaps, it's understood cleaners are regularly asked to pick up the slack," Mr Cook said.

"This dangerous practice is putting patients at risk.

"This should not be allowed to occur under any circumstances."

Mr Cook said orderlies often represented the first point of patient care and were required to assist hospital staff in their duties, so it was dangerous to substitute them with non-trained employees.

They were required to have a working knowledge of hospital wards and in many cases were relied on to assist when patients became violent or needed to be restrained.

Mr Cook called on the Colin Barnett-led government to investigate the claims, saying the lack of orderlies was symptomatic of widespread staff shortages facing WA hospitals, which were under enormous pressure to cut costs.

"And this is having a direct impact on patient and staff care," he said.

The State Government was being sought for comment.