From April 2011, all NHS hospitals will be expected to treat patients in single sex areas.
The only exceptions that will be permitted will be in accident and emergency and intensive care, where it is considered in the overall best interest of the patient or is their personal choice.
If hospitals do not comply they will face losing part or all of the payment for the care of each patient affected.
A shortage of beds, a lack of staff or waiting for the patient's condition to be assessed are not acceptable excuses.
Around one in ten patients currently sleep in a mixed sex ward at some point during their hospital stay and up to one in three share bathrooms or lavatories.
... Each case where a patient has had to sleep in the same room as a member of the opposite sex must be reported via a special software system to the primary care trust and strategic health authority. It will then be decided if the breach was justifed or not.
Sharing bathrooms or lavatories is also unacceptable and patients should not be required to pass through areas with member of the opposite sex to reach their own single sex facilities.
I assume that the facilities shall be 'separate but equal,' correct? All this reminds me of the segregation era in the US - where black and white schools could not even use the same textbooks for fear of contamination, and so on.
Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive Officer, Patients Association: “The Patients Association has long campaigned for an end to mixed sex wards – it is an unjust and unfair way to treat our most vulnerable, especially the elderly and minority groups.
"Fining trusts who care for patients on a mixed sex ward will hopefully help to end this undignified practice.
"However, in light of budget cuts, we are concerned that this may be accompanied by an increase in waiting times as patients wait for a bed on a single sex ward. Patients should not have to choose between death and dignity.”
Katherine Murphy should perhaps explain why it is such an affront to a woman's dignity to have to be in the same room as a man - because, let's face it, that's what we're talking about here.