The West

Hospital workers have condemned a stopgap measure by Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital to squeeze a fifth cancer patient into some four-bed rooms.

The hospital confirmed this week that so far this year it had put a fifth patient into four-bed rooms in cancer ward G73 three times.

One was this month, when a woman recovering from chemotherapy and a stemcell transplant was taken from her room in G73 to a nearby visitors' waiting area while still attached to her intravenous drip, because of a bed shortage.

Her family complained to the hospital that she had to sit on a chair with a blanket, pillow, bedside table and makeshift curtain for privacy.

After becoming unwell, she was taken back to the four-bed room which was fully occupied and another patient was moved into the space in the middle.

Health Services Union WA secretary Dan Hill, who raised the issue of extra patients being put in hospital rooms in 2011, said he was appalled it was still happening and it was a sign of a hospital system in crisis.

"Overcrowding in wards compromises patient care and is incredibly stressful for staff," Mr Hill said.

"The newly-elected State government must put a stop to this practice immediately."

An SCGH spokeswoman said in times of high emergency department demand, specialist inpatient wards could accept one extra patient, provided the patient was in a stable condition.

Sometimes that demand also meant men and women shared rooms.

"Staff will always endeavour to ensure that multi-bed rooms remain single gender, however, in periods of high demand patient safety will take precedence," she said.

The spokeswoman said the hospital was aware of the complaint by the woman.

"We're disappointed this has occurred and the patient's complaint is being investigated and we'll advise the patient and her family of the outcome," she said.

The West Australian

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