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Trusts fined over mixed sex wards


Mixed sex accommodation breaches have dropped sharply since the launch of a tougher regime four months ago but more than one in 10 trusts have seen their performance decline.

The data emerged in the first month that trusts will be fined £250 for every day a patient is forced to share accommodation with the opposite sex.

Department of Health figures published yesterday show that between December 2010 – the first month for which figures were collated nationally – and April, the total number of patients who had to sleep in mixed accommodation fell from 11,802 to 2,660.

But performance between December and April has worsened at 30 trusts out of the 251 that submitted comparable data in both months, analysis by HSJ reveals.

Barts and The London Trust had 433 breaches in April – the highest of any trust and 21 per cent higher than in December.

The figures, which measure the number of patients placed in mixed accommodation, mean Barts is in line for a fine of at least £108,000. However, the actual amount could be substantially higher if patients waited longer than a day before being moved to single sex wards.

A Barts spokeswoman said the trust had invested £800,000 over the last 12 months in site redevelopments to meet the rules.

The other four worst-performing  trusts in April were South London Healthcare Trust, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust, Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust.

The fines are being enforced through new contract requirements for 2010-11. Announcing them last year, the DH said primary care trusts would have “no excuses” not to impose sanctions. Trusts are only required to report breaches in sleeping accommodation.

South London Healthcare said breaches were not in any of inpatient wards and there were “firm plans” to eliminate mixed sex accommodation in endoscopy units.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare said its April figures were wrong and it was sending the correct data to the Department of Health.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust chief nurse Flo Panel-Coates said problems would be resolved when the new all single room hospital at Pembury opened in September.

Trusts with highest rates in April, compared with December performance

OrganisationBreaches December 2010Breaches April 2011% change
Barts and the London355433+ 21
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells364339-6
Buckinghamshire Healthcare72123+70
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals377113-70
South London Healthcare*26100+284

*New figures being submitted to DH



Readers' comments (10)

  • Has anyone asked the patients who were the subject of same sex breach?
    While I do not support non compliance there are just times when it is so difficult in units such as endoscopy when surely its better than cancelling a patients procedure? The NHS has gone mad - where is this money gone to - has anyone asked that question or is to line the pocket of yet another project manager to manage a project within a project?!

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  • I hope the CQC are watching with interest the breaches from Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust as they were both subject to investigation. It is amazing that CQC allow these breaches in view of their poor performance in the past. Where is the regulation and monitoring???

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  • I do support non compliance. The sex make up of wards and other units is a clinical issue and should be left to health care professionals (HCPs).

    This rule is designed to ensure that the NHS is presented in as worse a light as possible. Operations and admissions are being cancelled because of it.

    The patients should be consulted by HCPs and allowed to decide for themselves how important is is to them.

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  • Amazing isn't it, for all the talk of the market we have continual edicts from whitehall and the endless circulation of tax payer cash

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  • Do these fines come into play in the Scottish nhs. All of the wards I have ever worked in are mixed gender?

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  • Absolutely agree with John Tallon. The mix of wards is a CLINICAL issue, and government should stay the hell out of it. Bays can be single sex whilst wards can be mixed, what is the problem?

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  • I agree with Anonymous 20-May-2011 5:28 pm. I agree that men and women should not be expected to share accomodation. However I work in psychiatry where most wards are single ensuite rooms yet at times if they is no female bed/male bed available then patients are sent to the private Sector until bed is available. Maybe medical wards should do the same then the Govenment can provide the money to pay for this since they are so obsessed about Trusts breaching the rules about sharing accommodation between men/women. I am curious what if people's operations, investigative procedures etc have to be cancelled due to male/female bed being not available at the particular time when needed whould the government or patients themselves be willing to accept this. I can see this happening in the future as I said before you cannot predict when a person will need to be admitted to hospital.

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  • Also there is also the issues that have arisen with 'hotel' style wards to consider. They are in no way a benefit to the patient and actually make it more difficult for clinical staff to do our jobs.

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  • I had to have a minor procedure and the mixed sex ward thing was a joke. All patients arrived in the morning, all taken to their beds to be admitted, all women returned to wait in the waiting room, men waited by there beds. The ward was not full and no-one had a bed next to anyone else. One poor lady clearly could not mobilise with ease but was forced to traipse backwards and forwards to the waiting room, post surgery/procedure of course we all had to be in a bed anyway. It made everyone's lives difficult and was ridiculous.

    In some area's single sex wards are better, but in some day procedure areas - does it really matter? If individuals prefer, they could be placed as far away as possible from the nearest person of the opposite sex.

    The government cut beds, in lots of areas having male and female wards will mean more staff.

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  • easy way of solving this built two new hospitals every where have one just for male patients and one for female patients....... this will solve alot of problmes..........oh i forgot they gov are closing down hospitals and wards, where will we put patients????? oh yeah corridors spring to mind and mixed wards.

    I agree with Mike mixed wards ok as long as bays are single sex.

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