Monday, August 16, 2010

Pledge to end mixed-sex hospital wards by end of 2010

The coalition government is preparing to announce an end to most mixed-sex hospital wards in England by the end of the year, it has been reported. Despite Labour committing to the policy when it won power in 1997, it failed to completely abolish them.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said bringing about the change was a priority, but patients' groups have questioned how it could be achieved. The move would apply to all wards except for intensive care and A&E. Mr Lansley said: "I have made clear repeatedly my deep frustration at the fact that mixed-sex accommodation has not been eliminated from the NHS. "Eliminating mixed-sex accommodation is in patients' best interests, and I made clear the priority I attach to it in the revised Operating Framework published in June. I will have more to say on this shortly."

The Daily Telegraph said Mr Lansley had asked Chief Nursing Officer Dame Christine Beasley to visit all hospital trusts that still have mixed-sex wards to see what they were doing to ensure that male and female patients did not have to share facilities. Catherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, told the newspaper: "Given that each incoming secretary of state, and there have been a lot, and every new prime minister has made this same pledge since 1997, we will wait to see if this time it really is more than just rhetoric.

"At a time when we know that there are huge savings that have to be made in the health service, it is hard to see how hospitals are going to find the money for this." Two years ago, Lord Darzi, who was made a health minister by Gordon Brown, said providing single-sex wards across the NHS was an "aspiration that cannot be met".


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