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Saturday 26th May 2018

Mixed-sex wards still a problem

9th January 2009

The Conservatives are claiming the government has failed to live up to its manifesto promise to phase out mixed-sex wards in hospitals in England.


A survey of hospitals found that of the 132 that responded, 15% still used at least one open-plan, mixed sex ward while others had curtains dividing sexes.

This is despite advice that there should be solid and full height partitions.

The survey, using Freedom of Information legislation, also took in 55 mental health trusts where only one was found to be still using a mixed-sex ward.

In its election manifestos of 1997 and 2001, the Labour Party pledged to end mixed-sex wards.

In 2006, the government claimed this had virtually been achieved but patient surveys proved this not to be the case and in 2007 government figures showed that 15% of trusts had still not achieved single sex accommodation.

Government guidance says patients should be kept in bays divided at least by fixed full-height partitions and should also not be expected to walk past others of the opposite sex to go to washing or toilet facilities either, though intensive care and A&E departments are not included.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "Despite hearing promise after promise to end the scandal of mixed-sex wards, we have not seen the necessary action and they continue to blight our hospitals."

Patient Concern said it was scandalous that mixed-sex wards were still being used.

The Department of Health said significant progress was being made on reducing mixed sex accommodation.


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