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Hospitals to pay the price for mixed sex accommodation in the NHS

More than eleven thousand patients were placed in mixed sex accommodation in hospitals providing NHS services in December, according to new data published today by Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley.


The figures come as the Health Secretary announces that hospitals found in breach from April will be fined £250 for each patient affected and each day that they stay in mixed sex accommodation.


This is the first time that verified data on mixed sex accommodation breaches - where a patient is placed in mixed accommodation without any justification - has been collected and published, revealing the nature of the problem in English hospitals. The data, published online at individual hospital level, show that:
• 11,362 patients were placed in mixed sex accommodation in December (out of an estimated 1.4m ‘Finished Consultant Episodes’)
• Over half (52%) of hospitals who submitted data reported no breaches
• 92% of all breaches reported took place in acute hospital trusts
• Across England, the ‘breach rate’ is 8.1- meaning that there were 8.1 breaches per 1,000 ‘Finished Consultant Episodes’, or hospital stays
• The SHA with the highest breach rate, 13, is NHS North West. The SHA with the lowest breach rate, 1.2, is NHS Yorkshire and Humber.


[quote top=Commenting on the statistics published today, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said] Today, for the first time we are publishing information that exposes the true state of mixed-sex accommodation in the NHS. The figures show an unacceptable level of breaches in which patient dignity has been compromised.[/quote]


He conitnued to say: "Publishing these figures in itself revolutionises accountability to patients but that's just the start. By April, we expect every hospital to be capable of meeting the single sex accommodation standard. And so from 1st April we are introducing £250 fines for every time a hospital has concerns that a patient's dignity is not respected in this way. And we are increasing the number of single rooms in the NHS to ensure no patient suffers this indignity when it is unjustified."


The majority of hospitals are now compliant in eliminating mixed sex accommodation and remaining hospitals have until 1 April 2010 to declare their compliance. After this date, they will be fined £250 per patient affected per day. Fines will be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are fair and produce the required results - eliminating mixed sex accommodation except where it is in the patient’s best interest. The money will be reinvested into patient care.


Patients can use the data published today to help them decide which hospital they choose and can use a new feedback option on the NHS Choices website to share their experiences.