Fines over mixed-sex wards28th January 2009
Health secretary Alan Johnson has announced that hospitals treating patients in mixed-sex wards will be fined from April next year.
Trusts have been given until the end of February to submit their plans for change to strategic health authorities which will forward them to the Department of Health.
Those continuing to use mixed-sex wards, other than where there is over-riding clinical need, will have a proportion of their payment deducted.
Mr Johnson said mixed-sex accommodation was no longer tolerable in the NHS, except when it was absolutely clinically necessary.
He added: "Such accommodation is totally incompatible with our focus on quality, let alone the dignity and respect agenda, and it also now contravenes the NHS constitution."
In recognising that trusts have some practical difficulties to overcome in meeting the target, he has established a "privacy and dignity fund" of £100m to help SHAs make swift adjustments over the next six months.
However, the Conservatives believe elimination of mixed-sex wards will cost £1.5bn, while the NHS Confederation fears it could be even more as some new buildings may be required.
Mr Johnson said he expected SHAs to monitor progress and added: "From 2010/11 hospitals who fail in their duty to protect patients' privacy by allowing mixed-sex accommodation where it is not clinically necessary, will be financially penalised."
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "If Labour were serious about stopping patients being forced to share wards with the opposite sex they would copy our pledge to double the number of single rooms in the NHS."
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Title: Fines over mixed-sex wards
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 9975
Date Added: 28th Jan 2009