Hospitals continuing to treat patients on mixed-sex wards

Published: 15-Mar-2012

Latest figures show just one SHA reports no breaches

Just one strategic health authority in England managed to report no breaches in mixed-sex accommodation rules during February, new figures reveal.

Monthly statistics were published by the Department of Health today, showing how many NHS patients being treated in inpatient units in England were housed in accommodation with members of the opposite sex.

Reporting of all mixed-sex accommodation breaches is now mandatory across all NHS units with sleeping facilities, including where patients are admitted and cared for on beds or trolleys, day surgery units, admissions and assessment units and endoscopy departments. The figures do not take into account areas where patients have not been formally admitted, such as A&E cubicles.

For each reported breach, the trust responsible is fined £250. This means that on a four-bedded ward, even if there are three female patients and one male patient, the fine is charged four times over.

In January, for the first time since the data has been made available, both NHS North East and NHS East Midlands strategic health authorities (SHAs) reported no breaches. However, for February, while NHS North East has continued its run of zero reports, NHS East Midlands had a total of seven breaches. The second-lowest number was for NHS South Central with five.

In total, there were 583 reported breaches at trusts across England, compared to 625 in January and the lowest figure to date. Of these, all but two were at acute hospital trusts, with Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, a mental health provider, reporting one breach and the independently-run Emersons Green NHS Treatment Centre the other. This adds up to total fines of £145,750

The most reports were at Whipps Cross University Hospital NHS Trust, which saw 58 incidents. South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust reported 50 breaches at Warwick Hospital, and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust and Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust both had 45 reports.

NHS Warwickshire was the worst-affected primary care trust.

A spokesman for the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, which has recently published guidance on the eradication of mixed-sex accommodation in healthcare settings, said of the policy: “The need to deliver the highest standards of privacy and dignity applies equally to all areas of a hospital. Achieving these standards will usually mean ensuring that men and women do not have to sleep in the same room or bay or share toilet and washing facilities. Patients should not have to pass through areas used by the opposite sex to reach their own facilities.”

Click here for the statistics

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