Most NHS trusts in England have eliminated mixed-sex accommodation, the Government has announced.
Around 95% of trusts have virtually eliminated accommodation that sees men and women being treated together, Health Secretary Andy Burnham said.
Both sexes can still be treated on the same ward in some cases, such as in intensive care or when patients need specialist care in a small group or urgent treatment.
Of the 5% of trusts who have yet to eradicate mixed-sex accommodation, most have action plans in place, Mr Burnham said.
All NHS trusts have been told they must provide accommodation separately for men and women, dividing up bays with either solid walls or full-height partitions. Using curtains to separate bays is not allowed under the rules.
Former health secretary Alan Johnson said in April 2008 that mixed-sex accommodation in the NHS would be abolished within a year, adding the goal was within “touching distance”.
In 2009, he said that from 2010-11 hospitals who fail to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation would be financially penalised.
Today, the Government said the remaining 5% of trusts will face those financial penalties if they do not achieve the goal of separate accommodation.
The trusts’ action plans will be examined and a timeframe agreed within which work must be completed.
However, the Liberal Democrats accused the Government of “ducking real action” on the issue, which was a Labour manifesto commitment in 1997.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Patients need to be given the dignity they deserve.
“That’s why we’ve set out plans for a massive overhaul of hospital buildings so that every patient who wants one can be given a single room when they go into hospital for planned care.”