Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Trust colour-codes patients in bid to phase out mixed-sex wards

  • 1 Comment

One of the largest hospital trusts in England has developed a new electronic tracking system which can detect with up-to-the-minute accuracy when male and female patients have been mixed in wards or bays.

Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham has developed the new system in response to the government’s decision to issue financial sanctions to trusts that have failed to eradicate mixed sex wards, where there is no clinical justification, from next year.

On admission to the hospital every patient has their gender recorded on their individual electronic patient record. This is depicted with a pink female symbol for women and a blue male symbol for men.

The trust has also coded each ward, bay and bed in the hospital. A combination of the electronic coding systems allows staff to see immediately on screen, with the aid of the coloured gender symbols, where men and women have been mixed, either by accident or as a result of bed shortages.

Jo Richmond, a member of the trust’s corporate nursing unit, told Nursing Times that every morning ward managers and matrons assessed where patients had been mixed and then made plans to move them where appropriate.

‘We can see where we would not have expected to have patients to be in mixed-sex wards or bays and where we would, like in A&E,’ she said.

‘The system is showing us where we are compliant and helping us to understand where we are not compliant and what we need to do – it is a way of looking creatively at the issue,’ Ms Richmond added.

In March the Department of Health wrote a strongly worded letter to senior nurses at strategic health authorities telling them that the NHS must move ‘rapidly and decisively’ to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation over the next six months.

It followed the government’s latest commitment on the issue, made in January by former health secretary Alan Johnson, which included the threat of financial penalties and a £100m Privacy and Dignity Fund for trusts to finance necessary building or structural work.

Speaking earlier this month, new health secretary Andy Burnham said he would ‘finish the job’ of phasing out mixed-sex wards on the NHS.

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • Whilst I agree with the need to address mixed sexed accommodation in general, working within a specialty I also have strong views on addressing clinical need as eluded to in the article. The acute trust in which I work as a stroke specialist nurse is committed to delivering the requirements of the privacy and dignity campaign but part of me feels that this commitment is not taking into account meeting the clinical needs of patients who require admision to a specialty. The latest round of audit in stroke care eludes to the fact that they are not aware that anyone has ever died by bumping into the opposite sex...however, patients will be compromised if they are not able to access the care they need at the time they need it because the bed that is available is for the opposite sex! I feel some trusts are taking this to the extreme and even partitioning off emergency admission units/ITU/HDU-areas which the government appreciate may have to be exempt from this criteria-as long as staff work hard in these areas to ensure increased privacy and dignity, I would bet that the patients in these areas would be more grateful that they are just recieving the care they need and deserve!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs