Elderly patients miss out on showers

NIALL BOYLESound Telegraph

Some elderly patients are not getting regular showers at Rockingham General Hospital, according to staff, who made the latest claim as the full impact of staff cutbacks came to light.

A big number of nurses gathered at Don Cuthbertson Reserve in Cooloongup on Friday to discuss their concerns with Opposition health spokesman Roger Cook and United Voice WA assistant secretary Carolyn Smith.

Nurses said showers were being skipped due to time constraints with an explanation that ‘‘no one ever died from not getting a shower’’.

‘‘Unfortunately it’s some of the older patients who are missing out, who may need the help of one nurse or more,’’ Lucy, not her real name, said.

‘‘They could go up to a day, maybe more, without showering.

‘‘You feel terrible, but when it comes to giving antibiotics or a shower you are forced to prioritise and ask yourself what’s vitally important.’’

Lucy said nurses were being forced to work in four different wards on any one shift, to plug holes created by staff shortages.

Mr Cook said nurses were frustrated about not being able to provide quality patient care following cutbacks at the hospital.

Ms Smith said it was ‘‘disgusting’’ hospital management and the State Government had put nurses in trying situations.

‘‘Those alarms appear to be falling on deaf ears at the Health Department,’’ she said. ‘‘Make no mistake; this is going to get worse, and quickly, without action. These nurses are sick of having their dignity stripped away.’’

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