Royal London Hospital tops table for mixed-sex accommodation breaches

DH figures show capital is worst for breaching privacy and dignity rules

NHS trusts in London are continuing to report the highest breach rates when it comes to providing patients with single-sex accommodation while in hospital.

NHS London strategic health authority (SHA) has recorded the highest number of incidents in monthly figures released by the Department of Health following the introduction of mandatory reporting among health trusts treating NHS inpatients.

In total there were 301 breaches in February 2013, the last month for which figures are currently available – 300 in acute hospital trusts and one at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust. This compares to 398 in January.

NHS South West was the SHA with the second highest number of breaches – 21 in total. In London the problem is mainly at facilities operated by Barts Health NHS Trust, with 98 breaches at The Royal London Hospital and five at Whipps Cross University Hospital.

Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust reported 42 incidents; 41 at St Helier Hospital and one at Epsom Hospital.

The third highest figures were reported by King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, with 24 breaches at the King's College Hospital Denmark Hill site.

Out of the 161 acute trusts that returned information, 84% reported no breaches, compared to 86% in January.

Figures have been published since December 2010 and episodes refer to sleeping accommodation including areas where patients are admitted and cared for on beds or trolleys, even where they do not stay overnight. The reports therefore include all admissions and assessment units plus day surgery and endoscopy departments. They do not include areas where patients have not been admitted, such as accident and emergency cubicles.

Under the regulations, for every breach of the rules trusts are fined £250 per patient, per day. This means that on a four-bed ward, even if there are three men and only one woman, the regulations state the fine must be paid four times over. For February the fines amounted to £75,250 per day.

Health Minister, Dr Dan Poulter, said: “Nobody should have to suffer the indignity of mixed-sex accommodation. Thanks to the hard work of NHS staff and the Government’s rigorous monitoring system, the number of patients placed in mixed-sex accommodation has reduced by 99%.

“Any hospitals still placing patients in mixed-sex accommodation faces fines of £250 per patient, per day for every breach. I am pleased that we are making good progress and improving dignity for patients.”

A spokesman for The Royal London Hospital said the facility was the subject of the world’s largest hospital redevelopment project, which will provide world-class facilities for all patients, including offering single-sex accommodation in all areas.

Click here for full details of breach rates by individual trust.

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