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Nursing directors defend profession over failure to hit single sex ward target


Nursing directors have blamed inadequate buildings rather than nurses’ lack of commitment for some trusts failing to meet the target on delivering same sex accommodation.

The Department of Health announced earlier this month that 95 per cent of trusts in England had   “virtually eliminated” mixed sex accommodation by the government’s 1 April deadline (news, page2, 6 April).

An investigation by Nursing Times has identified the 15 trusts, including seven foundation trusts, which were unable to declare compliance (see box).  Nearly half of the non compliant trusts were in the West Midlands.

NHS West Midlands assistant director of nursing Maggie Bayley said nurses across the region had adopted a “zero tolerance” approach to mixed sex accommodation and where trusts had failed to meet the target it was largely out of nurses’ control.

“Most of the organisations in the patch are old Victorian buildings and it’s the structure of these buildings that has been the main problem. Because of the size of the organisations, and the capital work that had to be done, some of the [refurbishment] programmes that we expected to be finished have over run,” she told Nursing Times.

Most of the other trusts missed the target because of problems on a one or two wards but Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust admitted non compliance in 12 of its 54 wards. Trust director of nursing Mike Wright said the organisation was working hard to ensure full compliance with the target and was investing £1m to upgrade non compliant wards.

“It will require a programme of ward building upgrades, as most of the issues of non-compliance relate to the standard of partitioning between bed bays in ten of the wards at Hull Royal Infirmary,” he said in a statement.  

Whether trusts had met the target or not was based on self assessment. This process will now be monitored by primary care trusts and any breaches in compliance found will be reported to the strategic health authority.

Ms Bayley suggested the self assessment results might not be truly reflective of the national situation.

She said: “There is an issue in terms of this being a self assessment process, and how you choose to interpret the word virtually. Trusts in the West Midlands have been very hard on themselves in their self assessments.”


Trusts that failed to meet mixed sex accomodation deadline
Royal United Hospital Bath Trust
King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust
West Sussex Community Health
Surrey and Borders Partnership Foundation Trust
Portsmouth Hospitals Trust
Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare Trust
Hull and east Yorkshire Trust
Rotherham Foundation Trust
Heart of England FT
Coventry and Warwickshire partnership Trust
South Warwickshire FT
George Eliot Hospital Trust
Solihull Care Trust
University Hospitals Birmingham FT
The Royal Orthopaedic Hospitals FT
Number of trusts non-compliant overall - 15
Number of Foundation Trusts non-compliant with target overall – seven

Readers' comments (3)

  • Hang on a minute! Wasn't it about 15 years ago that the government brought in mixed wards to make more effcient use of the beds. Where was the dignity there? AND the nurses complied with the managers and politicians in implementing this. NOW 15 years later nurse are being blamed for not introducing same sex wards? Maybe the hospitals who are not introducing same sex wards need to hurry up before the election or politicians will lose a vote over this one as well. Have we got such short memories?

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  • Well to be fair single sex wards are about as necessary as having a disco ball in every bay.

    What is necessary is a bed and some reserve. these people accept so much imperfection and failure in their own lives that they often directly control - but god forbid someone else lets them donw - that's far worse!

    I actually had a patient once say she didn't have faith in the nursing staff.
    but her attitude chagned when i said she should worry about herself not us, because at the enbd of the day it's about whether your body has got anything left in it rather than my nursing willhave an effect on the antibiotics and wound healing.

    really we should take the pressure and remeber we really are fixing machines designed to be broken by the point they get to us.

    no guilt people. it's a hospital,not a hotel.isit more important that you get better or that you didn't see any saggy asses gaping from hospitals gowns?

    i know the answer, but of course the paperhat brigade might think otherwise - evidence or not.

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  • I just dont see the point in single sex wards. I dont. There are curtains which can be pulled around if you really dont like the look of the person around you. Everyone is in hospital due to illness or trauma and the focus should be on health.
    I dont see what is so dignified about being in a ward with those of the same sex. If a bed is available it should be used. Not have a bed manager flapping around "oh but I need a "mans" bed not a "womans" bed". Waste of time and resourses.

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