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NHS to act on mixed-sex figures


21 May, 2008  

The UK government is far from eliminating NHS mixed-sex accommodation despite assurances to the contrary, according to the opposition Conservative Party.

Figures obtained by the party under the Freedom of Information Act suggest that two thirds of NHS hospital trusts are still failing to meet set standards.

The data comes after Health Secretary Alan Johnson said mixed-sex accommodation in the NHS will be abolished within a year, adding that the goal was within “touching distance”.

But the Tory figures show that the majority of hospital trusts are still failing to provide single-sex accommodation.

According to the government’s own guidance, such accommodation is single-sex bays with three solid walls where patients do not have to walk past opposite sex bays to get to the toilet or washroom. Using curtains to separate men and women is not allowed under the guidelines.

The figures show that one in seven trusts still place patients in bays without three solid walls, while others use curtains or glass partitions to separate bays.

Health Minister Ann Keen said the situation was unacceptable. “Nine out of 10 people admitted to hospital for planned operations stay in single-sex accommodation,” she said.

“However, I know there is wide variation in patient experiences across the NHS. This is completely unacceptable.”

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