A three-minute interview with Ann Seeds, clinical ward manager at Hinchingbrooke NHS Trust in Huntingdonshire, on mixed-sex wards.
NT: Are single-sex wards something the NHS should be striving for?
AS: Yes, but the government has reduced capacity that trusts are working with, so the government is shooting itself in the foot.
But what we do find is that if patients are really sick they don’t care if they are on a mixed ward or not. What nurses try and do as much as we can is move them into a single sex bay as soon as possible.
NT: What kind of problems does mixed-sex accommodation create?
AS: ‘The biggest problem we have is having the wrong type of patient – if you have a mental health patient they can cause problems.
‘Mentally ill people can be very disturbing and they cause more problems than if there is someone is very sick opposite.The government should be providing more accommodation for this kind of patient.
NT: What about the issues relating to dignity?
AS: You have to realise that if you are really sick you just want to be treated. Sometimes if you really need to be treated. With our reduced capacity that means you have to do this [mix patients].’
NT: How can the problem be solved?
AS: The only way it is fully achievable is if you build only single rooms, which I think is what Lord Darzi was saying.
Interview by Richard Staines