Press release

Mixed-sex breaches hit a record low

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New statistics released today show fewer patients than ever before are staying in mixed-sex accommodation.

Health Secretary: “patients can now expect single-sex accommodation”

Fewer patients than ever before are staying in mixed-sex accommodation.

New statistics released today show that since December 2010, when monthly collection of mixed-sex accommodation data was first introduced, the number of reported breaches has fallen by 90 per cent.

In December 2010, hospitals reported that 11,802 patients stayed in mixed-sex accommodation, compared to 1,126 in July 2011 - a drop of 10,676. 

The data also shows that 115 Acute Trusts (69 per cent) reported zero breaches in July 2011. The North East has become the first region in England to report no breaches at all.

To support the government’s goal to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation and improve privacy and dignity in hospitals, the Health Secretary has announced today that any future capital investments in NHS hospitals - whether brand new of refurbishments - should consider having a minimum of 50 per cent single en-suite rooms. This will also improve isolation facilities for infection control.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“Single-sex accommodation is what people can now expect. By introducing greater transparency, this government has driven down breaches by 90 per cent in eight months. There are 10,000 fewer people suffering the indignity of staying on mixed-sex wards. What’s more, 69 per cent of Acute Trusts have reported no breaches at all.

“The NHS has done a fantastic job getting to grips with this. But we remain determined to put an end to mixed-sex accommodation where it is not clinically justified. This is why hospitals face fines of £250 for every breach, which can then be reinvested back into patient care.”

This government has already approved five schemes that are planned to meet or exceed the new 50 per cent standard for single en-suite rooms:

• Royal Liverpool: 100 per cent
• Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital: 60 per cent
• North Cumbria (Whitehaven): 100 per cent
• Epsom and St Helier: 50 per cent
• Lister Hospital Stevenage: 60 per cent

Notes to editors:

1. A full statistical press notice with further explanatory notes is available.

2. In July 2011, hospitals reported that 1,126 patients were placed in mixed-sex accommodation without any justification. This compares to 1,933 for June 2011 - a decrease of 42 per cent.

3. Overall, the percentage of single-bed rooms as a proportion of total available beds continues to increase.  Within the last decade, there has been a significant increase from 22.6 per cent to 32.7 per cent.  In actual bed numbers, this means that 10,486 more single-bed rooms are now available for patient use.

4. Each trust makes an informed choice regarding the appropriate percentage of single room provision based on practical considerations such as site restrictions, affordability as well as clinical and operational limitations. In some cases, providing single rooms for all patients may not be clinically appropriate.