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N Ireland urged to create consistent mixed-sex ward rules

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Health providers in Northern Ireland have been urged to create a regional policy on mixed-gender accommodation in hospitals.

A study by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) found that Belfast, Northern and South Eastern trusts have daily occurrences of mixed-gender accommodation, while Southern and Western HSC trusts have a zero tolerance policy, like in England.

This has led to a call for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) to deliver a policy on the issue.

RQIA chief executive Glenn Houston said: “The review team noted and commended practice within the Southern and Western HSC trusts where there is a zero tolerance to occurrences of care in mixed gender accommodation.

“However, in the Belfast, Northern and South Eastern trusts daily occurrences were reported. While these trusts reported that this happens only where single sex accommodation is not available, RQIA is calling on DHSSPS to develop a clear regional policy statement on care in mixed gender accommodation.”

He added: “RQIA also recommends that the Health and Social Care Board and Public Health Agency, when initiating programmes to improve performance targets or patient flow, should consider any unintended consequences on the quality of the patient experience.”

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