Alan Johnson has pledged to abolish mixed-sex accommodation in the NHS within a year.
Mr Johnson, who received a standing ovation at the end of his speech at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) conference in Bournemouth, said: “On the position of mixed-sex wards, mixed-sex accommodation, single-sex wards and accommodation, there’s a bit of a political distinction.
“Our 1997 manifesto said that we would work towards abolishing mixed-sex accommodation. By the time it got to 2001 it was referring to mixed-sex wards. I think we are within touching distance of ensuring that we can get this thing sorted out.”
Mr Johnson said there were exceptions, such as in intensive care and emergency situations, where both sexes might be put together.
Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the RCN, said after Mr Johnson’s pledge: “We went from a few weeks ago in the House of Lords saying this cannot be achieved, you would have to rebuild the NHS, to a clear commitment that over the course of next year, we should get final eradication of what the man on the street would call a mixed-sex facility.”
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