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Rise in patients on mixed wards

18th November 2011

New figures show a rise in the number of patients being treated on mixed-sex wards.

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It is the first increase since the practice was banned last year with hospitals reporting 1,244 breaches of the guidance in England during October, compared with 1,079 in September.

The Tory government has promised an end to mixed-sex wards, a decade after former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair said he would do so.

But patient groups have expressed anger that there are still mixed sex wards within the NHS.

Katherine Murphy, the chief executive of the Patients Association, said the new figures showed that hospitals were struggling to provide acceptable standards as cuts began to have an impact.

She said: “It is not enough to spout rhetoric about mixed-sex accommodation being unacceptable — the Department of Health needs to provide practical support to the trusts who continue to breach mixed-sex accommodation guidelines to stamp out this problem once and for all.

“Instead, they impose fines on trusts already facing squeezed budgets, taking tens of thousands of pounds away from trusts that could have been spent on fixing the problem. This cannot go on and ultimately it is patients who will suffer.”

Hospitals faced a fine of £250 for every breach.

The Department of Health said the overall trend was in the right direction and health minister Simon Burns said: “The NHS has made significant improvement in tackling mixed-sex accommodation — down almost 90% in under a year, thanks to improved transparency.

“But despite this overall improvement, nobody should have to suffer the indignity of mixed-sex accommodation.”

 

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