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Public hospital mixed wards includes breast cancer surgery patients

I have been concerned about mixed wards for a while now and many of the pubic hospitals will place breast cancer surgery patients in mixed wards.. It seems to be across the board, no matter what surgery is involved.  We seem to be going backwards in Australia, as many countries would not hear of putting women in mixed wards with men.  

What have your experiences been? 


  • June1952June1952 Member Posts: 1,248
    My husband was in a public ward with women and he asked the staff to pull the curtain around him so he was not thought to be perving on the women (who did not take any measures to be respectable).  He was embarrassed.
    Agree, a terrible situation.  It worked OK as separate wards for all those years.
  • noosa_blue150noosa_blue150 Buderim QLD Member Posts: 105
    Same gender wards are hard to manage these days with most hospitals at full bed capacity and patient turnover. If anyone in a mixed ward and having issues you should,speak to nursing staff and see if any leeway available for another ward or area. Our local,health service  recently opened a new hospital and it has mostly single bedrooms in a ward area .
  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 3,616

    Fair enough, although I am not sure that anyone in hospital should  be required to be respectable, getting well is hard enough. Mixed wards are tricky but single sex can be as hard. My worst experience was sharing a room (private!) with a woman who
    had hordes of noisy visitors and  listened to her tv (no use of headphones) all through the night! My last mixed ward was an exercise in consideration by comparison. Rest and hospitals are a contradiction in terms however, no matter how good the care. 
  • June1952June1952 Member Posts: 1,248
    When a female (no lady) sat on the bed with her legs far apart so the "short and curlys" etc. were on full display .... this is really common sense and self-respect.  "Not required to be respectable" is one thing but that was disgusting and quite unacceptable.  My husband did not want to be accused of sexual harassment from afar. 😀
    You should have asked staff to intervene if you were not able to ask for some quiet as you recovered.
  • Keeping_positive1Keeping_positive1 Member Posts: 212
    edited October 13
    I would prefer some noisy visitors at visiting hour, than a male patient using a portable urinal without closing the curtains around him!  My point is about public hospitals seeing it as OK to have mixed wards, not about noise factors. We can't really compare the two scenarios equally.

    @June1952 that must have been very uncomfortable for your husband.  I think we deserve to have separate wards/room in Australia, whether public or private.

    It isn't just those with private health funds that can escape a mixed ward, we have to keep in mind if a person ends up in an emergency situation they will more than likely be taken to a public hospital and then placed into a mixed ward.  This happens a lot, so don't think because a person has private health funds that they have the choice.  I feel some get complacent about this issue because they are paying into private health funds.  

  • June1952June1952 Member Posts: 1,248
    @Keeping_positive1, You are so right.  We struggle to pay private cover but on the night the private hospital was not taking ambulances.  We were not aware we could insist on being transferred over ... a lesson ....
  • Keeping_positive1Keeping_positive1 Member Posts: 212
    @June1952 and not all private hospitals have an ER department.  We are always going to have a 2 tiered health system, but it would be good if told you could have transferred over, and also would be good if our public health system would reinstate separate wards/rooms for males and one for females. 

    Don't get me started on the food they have prepacked and brought in to feed the patients in the public system.   
  • June1952June1952 Member Posts: 1,248
    Ha ha - the same crappy food now goes to the private system !!!
  • Keeping_positive1Keeping_positive1 Member Posts: 212
    Not at my nearby private hospital!  They get top quality meals!  :)
  • gumnutgumnut far north coast NSWMember Posts: 483
    Hello all
    I had a public hospital shared / mixed gender ward when I had my mastectomy + surgery last November. At first I had my own ICU nurse sitting next to me as there was no bed for me in intensive care. I was then in the cardio ward due to complications where the care was excellent and I was so sick I didn't really notice who was next to me but I am well aware of the discomfort that can be felt when in a mixed ward. I then moved to a two bed room with a gentleman who was recovering from stomach/bowel surgery. It wasn't ideal but I did my best at managing the bathroom sharing and he didn't have noisy visitors (I think it was during post covid restrictions with less visitors). I would prefer a non mixed ward but the care was good and I am grateful in Australia that we have such a good public health system.
    It would however be a lot more challenging if the person/people that you shared with were disrespectful or overly noisy.

    I have also had varied experiences with my elderly Mum who had a private room in a private hospital with one other lady who had lots of noisy visitors and also had the tv up loud all the time; she has also been in a large public hospital in a shared mixed room.

  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 3,616
    It sounds like a simple solution to ask hospital staff to tell the noisy patient to turn the noise down but I found that busy staff were extremely unwilling to get into the issue (both parties paying for private hospital treatment). The care overall was good but the sleep disruption was hard. I got moved to a single room after a particularly bad night. As the other party was demanding and difficult, you didn’t really want to behave in the same way! 
  • Keeping_positive1Keeping_positive1 Member Posts: 212
    I had surgery on both breasts so I stayed for two nights.  Next to me was a man with some prostate issue, was easy enough to hear the doctors talking to him.  LIkewise I am sure he heard all about my breast concerns.  
    In the adjoining room there was mixed genders also, couldn't they sort this out.. really it isn't that difficult.  It has to do with staffing issues and not putting patients first!

    I have worked in a government department and understand the limits, but really we should be aiming higher!

  • TonyaMTonyaM Member Posts: 2,710
    I’m an’old school’ nurse and we managed to separate the sexes back in the’70s,80s and 90s no problem.
    I wouldn’t like to share a hospital bathroom or room with strange men I didn’t know.Although private,I had to share a 4bedder room with women after my mastectomy op at a public hosp and one of them screamed out all night- she couldn’t reach the buzzer.I ended up dragging my drip around to attend to her.
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 3,230
    It's vile.
    Until such time as it's acceptable for a woman to wander around with her top off, it is reasonable to provide some sort of division between the genders when no-one can rely on tatty curtains being, or staying, closed. It's busy in there. I get it. But a bit of privacy doesn't go astray.
    I am no prude, but the sight of an old guy with his gonads hanging out is enough to put me off my lunch. Not his fault, the poor old bugger, but still...
    As for noisy roommates,  WTF? Does the whole bloody family have to squeeze into the room? I've had people (briefly) sit on my bed when visiting someone in the next 'cubicle'.
    Yeah, I'm far too grumpy for hospital in general, but some things can be done to ease the stress. The beds are on wheels for a reason.
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