Mixed sex wards as bed crisis deepens
Women and men are being treated together in 'mixed gender' wards due to the ongoing shortage of hospital beds, the Sunday Independent has learned.
Many of the country's 52 hospitals are now ditching the traditional gender divide, because of the acute pressure on bed space.
Despite concerns this practice can be "extremely distressing" for certain patients, it is increasingly used in coronary care, intensive care, high dependency units, acute medical assessment centres, as well as day ward and admission areas.
Elderly women, in particular, are often uncomfortable when asked to share a mixed-sex ward.
Both St James's and Tallaght hospital in Dublin, as well as Naas General, and the Midland Regional in Tullamore, accommodate patients in "mixed gender rooms on wards" during "busy periods".
A spokesman insisted that every effort is made to ensure this arrangement is limited to the "shortest time possible."
Kilcreene hospital in Kilkenny said, while it endeavours to keep male and female patients in separate bays, occasionally, due to "space constraints", they are forced to mix genders.
In a statement, University Hospital Kerry said, while it is "not our policy" to mix genders, the practice can occur during periods of "full capacity", in order to place the patient in the "safest ward in regards to their needs".