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Concern at rising number of mixed sex ward breaches

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A rise in number of target breaches for mixed sex accommodation represents a “reminder” that resources are overstretched and the quality of care is potentially at risk, it has been warned.

Latest monthly data on mixed sex breaches, published by NHS England, showed there were 969 breaches in September – a breach rate of 0.6 per 1,000 finished consultant episodes (FCEs).

“There is a risk that the quality of care and patient experience may be affected”

Saffron Cordery

This compares with the 607 breaches reported at the same point in 2016 – a breach rate of 0.4 per 1,000 episodes – and more than double the 415 breaches in 2015 – a breach rate of 0.3 per 1,000.

NHS Providers, which represents health service organisations and is part of the NHS Confederation, highlighted that “trusts have worked extremely hard to tackle this problem”.

“Respect for patients’ privacy and dignity is always a priority, and no one wants to see these numbers going up,” said Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers.

“However, the rising number of breaches for mixed sex accommodation is a reminder that when resources are overstretched there is a risk that the quality of care and patient experience may be affected,” she said.

The mixed sex data, published last Thursday, was accompanied by figures on a range of indicators including accident and emergency performance, which suggested a marginal improvement in meeting the four-hour target.

The NHS in England achieved 90.1% for October against the 95% target, up slightly from 89.7% in September and a whole percentage point better than the 89.1% achieved in October 2016.

Saffron Cordery

Saffron Cordery

Saffron Cordery

The type one performance – of full A&E departments – still significantly lags overall performance, but also showed a slight uplift month on month.

The figures revealed 84.9% of patients were seen within four hours at type one A&Es in October, compared to 84.6% in September and 83.7% in October last year.

Meanwhile, latest data on delayed discharge showed there were 168,300 total delayed days in September 2017, of which 110,100 were in acute care.

This represents a decrease from September 2016, where there were 196,600 total delayed days, of which 134,300 were in acute care.

Ms Cordery said: “It is encouraging to see some evidence of progress in reducing delayed transfers of care for patients who are medically fit to move on.

“It is notable too that, although overall performance against the four-hour target in A&E is still not meeting the target, it was better than for the same time last year despite hospitals seeing and admitting more patients,” she added.

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