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Single sex hospital wards hindered by bed shortages


Two thirds of nurses say their trust still places patients in mixed sex accommodation, with a quarter saying it occurs every day.

A third of respondents to a survey of more than 600 Nursing Times readers said they did not think their hospital would eliminate use of mixed sex accommodation by the end of the year but almost half were hopeful it could be achieved over the next five years.

The survey follows last week’s government announcement that routine reporting of breaches of rules on mixed sex accommodation would be introduced from the start of next year. The data will be published and fines imposed on trusts still failing to comply with the requirement to avoid same sex accommodation outside A&E and intensive care.

However, the government stopped short of setting a new target for the abolition of mixed sex accommodation, despite earlier press reports to the contrary.  

The previous government claimed that 95 per cent of trusts had “virtually eliminated” mixed sex accommodation in hospital areas except accident and emergency and critical care.

However, the Nursing Times survey results show 68 per cent of respondents believe their hospital trust still uses mixed sex accommodation on occasion.

Two thirds said the main reason for this was bed shortages during peak demand, compared with 17 per cent who cited the structure of old buildings - the reason most often given by trusts for lack of compliance.

One reader said: “Occupancy is over 100 per cent which means finding a bed is the problem, not a gender specific bed.”

Ian Hulatt, an adviser in the nursing department at the Royal College of Nursing, said he was not surprised pressure on beds was cited as a major cause. He said: “People don’t come into hospital in queues of gender.”

He also warned overstretched nurses might find it hard to record breaches at peak times, as required by the new policy. He said: “Recording data might be a bit lower down my priorities than delivering patient care.”

Only about a quarter of respondents said breaches were currently recorded routinely.

Less than half of respondents said elimination of mixed sex accommodation should be a priority for the government, with most ranking the protection of frontline services and improving service quality above it.

“The government need to get their priorities right and not make staff spend needless time and energy on this,” said one respondent.


Readers' comments (12)

  • What a huge waste of time and money is being spent on trying to provide single sex accommodation in our hospitals. Patients who are sick don't care who is in the next bed. It is feasable to seperate toilet and shower facilities but it is not feasable to maintain single sex bays and certainly not single sex wards. The genders do not get sick in equal numbers and where would a gay patient be placed?
    If the goverment want the NHS to be efficient and cost effective they need to leave the clinical staff to do their job properly and stop interfering with their PC and vote coercing ideas.

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  • accommodation in the NHS is of a very low standard to start with and made worse by mixed sex wards which is truly barbaric in what is supposed, but questionably, a developed country and one of the richest in the world. Who ever dreamed up this idea of forcing females to go onto male wards or putting males on a female ward and why? The whole idea is truly disgusting and should never even be contemplated.

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  • Steve Williams

    Blah blah blahh... blahh blah blah blah... blahhhhh....

    Not to be unpleasant about it... but we have heard this shit spouted from the monkeys high in the trees for years.

    No. Don't blame Maggie for it, she was just a despot trying to pass the buck.

    It was Earl Sainsbury – if you remember – who thought all “patients” should be treated as “customers” and lumped into trolleys and trundle though the check-out counters.

    In the early 80's Mags was off strutting her stuff, selling arms to Iran and fighting the Argies, she had no time or patience to worry about patients.

    So she slopped the whole thing off to Lord SuperMarket.

    HE was the genius that came up with the novel concept of mix-sexed wards – not Mags.

    HE also came up with the shit idea of “TRUSTS”... whatever that means!

    The next time you push your trolley through “SAINSBURYS” and think you are saving some shillings in the meat section – remember that (thanks to that guy) YOUR granny is going to see some meat that she probably hasn't seen since your Granddaddy passed away.

    This nonsense [single sexed wards] is never going to go away until a government minister has to go into an NHS hospital as a patient.... BWWWAAAHHHHHAAAA.... as if that is ever going to happen.

    When Thatch had to have some work done on her wrist... Carpal tunnel or tunnel vision... she went to The Cromwell in Hammersmith – private, of course. She could have had the same jobby done at any number of our well-equipped West London NHS hospitals with the same outcome... she would have still come out being a sanctimonious murdering bitch...

    Ahhhhhhhhh....... well let us leave those dangerous thoughts exactly where they belong.

    Today, you have got mixed-sex wards thanks to yourselves – the shopping-trolly generation.

    You wanted it. You got it!

    Over a group Barbecue which was “rained-off” in Mill Road, back in 1978 I asked my Senior Tutor at Severalls Hospital - Oliver Slevin - (he's actually now a Professor of Nursing in Northern Ireland) why the UK spent so little of its income to look after it's most vulnerable people.

    He said (and I will carry these words to my grave because they are the TRUTH) “Do you know Steve, society needs a dustbin to put them into. Nobody wants to spend a lot of money on a dustbin do they!”

    Yup, Slevin got it right. Years before Sainsbury slipped it passed Maggie. Can we put it right now? How do the kids text it these days... SRLY? OMG! WTF! YSM! LOL! ROMALF...

    Or something like that....

    In human terms I'll say “Ho, ho, not in my lifetime” not even with a new government. I have seen them come and I have seen them go. None of them make a difference.

    You'll still have to put up with mixed-sex wards and your Granny/Mother is still going to get an eyeful of something that looks like “the last turkey on the butcher's slab!”

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  • Steve Williams

    Excuse me but....

    @ Anonymous | 24-Aug-2010 8:44 am
    Can I have some of the drugs you are taking?

    I am sure that even “Plan 9 From Outer Space” would make some sense then!

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  • Steve, I think it is you that must have been on the drugs, you should now try some immodium for your verbal diarrhoea.

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  • Steve Williams

    Whoooo... nice try NT... but I am still here.

    I'm much longer in the tooth in both IT and nursing than you will ever be.

    @ Anonymous | 25-Aug-2010 8:52 am

    Think I am doing drugs? Look up “Personal budgets sex survey exposes 'no rules'” on this site.

    The NT management are so frikking paranoid and bereft of talent that they have to invent stories and then justify them when challenged as to their right to publish them.

    How can you trust a “supposed” professional publication when it has been proved that it not only fabricates “news” but also manipulates and exaggerates the responses by posting on its own site.

    If manipulating and massaging its own agenda for the Internets isn't bad enough when push comes to shove the NT gals think they can just reset the odometer.

    Yup, you and I know that when you take your car in for a service you can't wind back the mileometer in order to re-write your car's history and somehow make it appear more glamorous than it actually is.

    But the dicks up at NT-online don't get this concept. They think that if they reset the NT forum software that it magically resets the whole of the Internets history. Dohhhh... it don't!

    Have they never heard of web-crawlers? Web bots? No?

    Everything everyone ever posts gets archived for all time... even front pages from the NT. Even your own internet browser will keep a cache of a few back pages.

    Testify a case in point.

    The runaway “most commented” and “most popular” thread for the whole of last week was “Top hospitals show bias for male nurse directors” and a jolly good thread it is too. It's got many more “hits” than the NT ever had before...

    But of course it didn't fit the NT's female dominated agenda, so (over the weekend) they reset the stat-counter. But like any good garage mechanic seeing a rolled-back odometer in a dumb-blonde's Cadillac... we can spot when the curtains don't match the carpet and can sniff something smelly.

    My point?


    You are.

    In fact you stink.

    It is not me that needs Imodium (spelt with only one 'm' BTW you qualified nursing person you!) Get some foot odour products for your socks cos your puppets ain't cutting it anymore!

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  • Steve, you really need to lay off the dope, it is making you paranoid. I don't have a clue what you are talking about.
    "I'm much longer in the tooth in both IT and nursing than you will ever be" Maybe if its not drugs then its dementia.

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  • Curtains, carpets, socks, odometers, garage mechanics and puppets in a thread about single sex wards???

    And you claim you're not on drugs?

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  • Steve Williams

    @ Anonymous | 25-Aug-2010 2:22 pm

    >>Steve, you really need to lay off the dope, it is making you paranoid. I don't have a clue what you are talking about.

    "I'm much longer in the tooth in both IT and nursing than you will ever be"

    Maybe if its not drugs then its dementia.<<

    Well let me just explain it simply for you my little unwashed ignoramus and the other following twat....

    “Much longer in the tooth”

    Is an old saying that means I am I am much older and wiser than you (obviously!)

    “in both IT and nursing”

    It means I was playing around with computers at Essex University using the site's mainframe (running under Gary Kirdall's CP/M) in 1976 – I started my nursing in career in 1974. I was doing IT (Information Technology) and nursing before your mother and father ever met.

    Don't wazz me you wozzucks. The best part of you slipped down your mother's inside thigh when she suddenly stood up!


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  • "I'm much longer in the tooth in both IT and nursing than you will ever be"

    I know exactly what that means, it's all the other crap you keep writing, you're like the sad old git that sits in the corner of every pub making irrelevant comments about anything anyone else says, an object of pity and ridicule.
    If you're not on drugs and you're not demented then you better get some therapy ASAP.
    "I was playing around with computers at Essex University using the site's mainframe (running under Gary Kirdall's CP/M) in 1976 – I started my nursing in career in 1974. I was doing IT (Information Technology) and nursing before your mother and father ever met"

    Is that even relevant to anything??

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