THE Australian Medical Association says mixed-gender hospital rooms are a marker of a health system under stress.
Launceston MLC Rosemary Armitage flagged concerns over men and women sharing rooms at a Budget Estimates hearing this month and again last week, saying she received complaints from Launceston General Hospital patients who felt uncomfortable in a mixed-gender wards.
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said at the Estimates hearing that people had also raised the same issue with him, and he acknowledged it was a concern.
AMA state president Tim Greenaway said doctors tried to avoid putting patients in mixed-gender rooms as much as possible.
“It is a sign of a bigger problem, of obviously not having enough beds, certainly in the higher demand periods,” Dr Greenaway said.
Dr Greenaway said mixed-gender rooms increased patient discomfort when they were already unwell.
“Obviously there’s the patient confidentiality, privacy, comfort and it increases the stress,” Dr Greenaway said.
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation state secretary Neroli Ellis said mixed-gender rooms were not optimal, but the only way to admit patients when faced with bed shortages.
“There are many complaints from patients and relatives and nurses felt caught in the middle,” Mrs Ellis said.
Mr Ferguson said that the state government wanted to provide patients with the most comfortable environment in hospital.
“While it is not currently feasible to prevent mixed-gender wards, we certainly want to use the resources we have to provide the highest possible level of patient comfort and the hospital staff make every effort in this area,” Mr Ferguson said.
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