Mixed-sex wards frustration23rd January 2009
A leaked document has suggested that the government is "rattled" over the failure to eradicate mixed-sex wards in English hospitals.
In the memo written to senior NHS members and leaked to the Conservative Party, Health Secretary Alan Johnson spoke of his frustration that Labour's pledge had not been met.
Mr Johnson says "sane and rational arguments about why it can't be done no longer cut it with me, it's going to happen".
The document also reveals that a central capital fund will be established for strategic health authorities to phase out mixed-sex accommodation alongside a new contractual obligation for hospitals to tackle the problem.
Data revealed by the Tories earlier in January found that 15% of hospital trusts still used at least one open-plan mixed-sex ward and others had not implemented effective dividing partitions, despite Labour saying it would end mixed-sex accommodation in is 1997 and 2001 manifestos.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "This is a stark admission of failure from Labour. Frankly it is a scandal that they have done nothing about mixed-sex wards except make repeated empty promises.
"What's worse is that they are only taking action now because Conservatives have exposed their abysmal record and set out real plans for change, with single rooms in hospital for all patients who need them."
The NHS Confederation said it was sceptical about how the changes could be funded.
The Patients Association said it was glad Mr Johnson had finally accepted that the government has failed to deliver on its promises on mixed sex accommodation.
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