Thousands of patients are still sleeping on mixed-sex wards despite the fact hospitals face being fined from April.
In February this year there were 7,583 breaches of rules banning the unjustified use of mixed-sex sleeping accommodation, reveal the latest figures published by the Department of Health.
Seventy-five trusts had breached the rules – nearly all were acute trusts.
However, the data shows more than half of acute trusts included in the analysis – 53 per cent - had eradicated the practice altogether and that the number of reported breaches has dropped.
Updated figures for December show there were 11,802 breaches. There were 8,160 reported in January.
From April this year trusts will be fined £250 every time a patient is wrongly placed on a mixed-sex ward under a stringent enforcement regime introduced by the coalition government.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said the falling figures showed trusts had responded but there were “still far too many” breaches.
“Individual hospital trusts must explain why they break the rules,” he said.
Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals – one of the largest acute trusts - reported the most breaches in February at 859.
Chief nurse Elaine Strachan-Hall said the majority – 732 - were from day cases. Better recording of breaches in these areas had led to an increase in the number reported.
“The trust is planning to make changes to these areas to provide single sex accommodation,” she said.
“However, this is not work that is easy to achieve in the very short-term and we will continue to have problems in this area until we are able to carry out some significant capital work in out day care areas.”
While the guidelines on single sex accommodation do not include critical care, the trust and NHS Oxfordshire have set a four-hour time limit for moving patients who no longer need critical care to an appropriate ward and single sex accommodation.
“If we do not meet this, we report it as a breach. This accounts for 80 of the breaches,” said Ms Strachan-Hall.
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