Single-sex wards 'impossible'29th January 2008
Health minister Lord Darzi has said the health service would need to be "rebuilt" from scratch in order to accommodate single-sex wards.
The Labour party had set a target of ending mixed-sex wards in England by 2002, but has not been successful.
Lord Darzi has been tasked with carrying out a review of the NHS in England.
He said the government wanted to ensure single-sex "accommodation" was available. This accommodation allows wards to be separated into areas specifically for men and women using fixed partitions.
He told the House of Lords: "The only way we're going to have single-sex wards within the NHS is to build the whole of the NHS into single rooms.
"That is an aspiration that cannot be met."
Katherine Murphy, from the Patients Association, said they wanted "entirely" segregated wards and accommodation would still mean that patients would have to use shared bathrooms and toilets.
Kate Jopling, of the charity Help the Aged, said "dignity" and "privacy" needed to be placed first on the agenda. She added that many elderly people were concerned about the idea of receiving treatment on a mixed-sex ward.
She described single-sex accommodation as an idea in the right direction, but one that represented a "far from ideal situation".
A Department of Health spokesman stated that Lord Darzi's views were "fully in line" with the government's "long-standing commitment on mixed-sex accommodation".
He added that the health service would not refuse treatment to patients because single-sex wards were "not immediately available".
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Charlotte Peters Rock
Thursday 31st January 2008 @ 14:16
While mixed sex wards exist, all Directors and Senior Managers, and other staff, working within the NHS - and their families - should be required to have any necessary hospital treatment in such wards.
That needs to be written into their NHS contracts. It would be interesting to see how quickly the situation could be turned around, if that were to happen.
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