The move to same-sex accommodation confirms the NHS’s commitment to delivering safe care with privacy and dignity. And the deadline is close at hand.
As set out in the 2010/11 Operating Framework, by the end of March 2010, all providers of NHS-funded care will need to have:
- published a declaration that they have virtually eliminated mixed-sex accommodation
- agreed a Delivering Same-Sex Accommodation (DSSA) plan with their commissioners, following a self-assessment.
Any providers that fail to meet the obligations set out in their DSSA plan may have funds withheld as a result. In the event patients of the opposite sex have to share sleeping accommodation, toilets or washing facilities, providers will be subject to a fine equal to the cost of the service or treatment.
In acute settings, there may be exceptional circumstances in which fast, effective care takes priority over providing gender segregation. The local NHS is best placed
to decide whether mixing is clinically justified for an individual patient.
However, there is no clinical justification for mixing the sexes in mental health and learning disability services. Providers of mental health and learning disability inpatient services will need to provide women-only day areas as well as same-sex bedrooms and bathrooms.
Nurses should work closely with doctors, bed managers and estates staff to meet this goal. Support and guidance is available for providers that need help. Peer reviews and direct support are available to NHS organisations via SHAs. If you would like more information about how to request such support for your organisation, please contact your SHA.