The health secretary has announced plans to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation in hospitals across 200 health trusts in England.
A total of 700 projects are planned and work has already started on creating new bathrooms and partition walls to provide separate toilets and sleeping areas for male and female patients.
The move comes after the government pledged in January that any hospitals which failed to protect patients’ privacy from 2010/11 would be penalised financially, unless it could be ‘clinically justified’.
Much of the work under way is being funded by a £100 million ‘privacy and dignity fund’, which has been allocated to all strategic health authorities in England.
Around £40 million of the fund will be spent on new and refurbished same-sex sanitary facilities such as bathrooms, while the remaining money will be spent building separating walls, provision of same-sex lounges and improved partitions.
Health secretary Alan Johnson said: ‘We have made great progress, however our message is clear - over the coming months we only expect to see mixed-sex accommodation where it is clinically justified and from next year those trusts who fail in this duty will be financially penalised.’