Number of hospital patients being treated in mixed-sex accommodation reaches record low

THE latest government figures reveal that 70% of hospitals in England are treating patients in single-sex environments.

Faced with fines of £250 for every patient treated on a mixed-sex ward, trusts have taken measures over the past year to improve their estates and provide segregated sleeping and toilet/washroom facilities. And figures for September showed a record number of hospitals have reported zero breaches – 117 out of 167 acute trusts. This compares with just 77 trusts in December 2010.

The statistics also show that no patients in the North East region suffered the indignity of sharing accommodation with people of the opposite sex. Across the board unjustified breaches have fallen from nearly 12,000 to 1,079 in the past 10 months. This is equivalent to fines of £269,750.

Commenting on the news, Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said: “This fantastic achievement shows just how important it is to improve transparency in the NHS. By publishing regular and reliable data, we have shone a light on bad performance with the result of over 10,000 fewer breaches of the rules on mixed sex accommodation for patients.

“Nobody should have to suffer the indignity of mixed-sex accommodation and every unjustified breach is one too many. I urge those hospitals that have still to tackle this problem to look at the improvements in other hospitals and follow them. If they don’t, they will face fines of £250 for every breach.”

The figures show the worst-offending strategic health authority was NHS London, with 440 breaches, while NHS South East Coast had the highest calculated breach rate based on the number of breaches per 1,000 completed consultant episodes.

Barts and the London NHS Trust was the provider with the most breaches – 260 – followed by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust with 190, and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust with 77.

The individual hospitals topping the table were The Royal London Hospital with 259 breaches, Kent and Sussex Hospital with 133 breaches, and Cheltenham General Hospital with 59 breaches. The worst-performing trusts have said they are waiting for estates improvements to be completed, which will mean there will be dedicated areas for both sexes.

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