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More patients placed in mixed-sex wards in England

(21 Posts)
PencilsInSpace Mon 30-Jan-17 20:07:03

Heard this on the bbc earlier. The number of patients placed in mixed-sex wards in England has risen by almost 70% in the last year.

The Patients Association said the rise was "concerning" and that the wards should be scrapped.

Its chief executive Katherine Murphy said single-sex wards are an "important component of preserving patient dignity" in hospitals.

"It is really concerning that over the past year there has been a sharp increase in the number of patients being placed on mixed-sex wards, as a result of mounting hospital pressures," she said.

"Protecting standards of patient safety must remain at the very heart of the NHS and eliminating mixed-sex hospital accommodation is central part of this."

Given the current funding crisis in the NHS I don't expect this will get better anytime soon. They interviewed a doctor on the news who talked about confused patients wandering and sometimes getting into bed with patients of the opposite sex. I've seen this happen on mixed elderly wards years ago when I was nursing. I'm horrified that it's still happening.

I'm glad the importance of single sex facilities for patients' safety and dignity is being acknowledged. I'll be interested to see how this is covered in the media.

Italiangreyhound Tue 31-Jan-17 20:51:45

Pencil I heard about this on the news and I have a vague idea patients not provided with single sex wards may be able to sue.

This gives some nice helpful comments on why single sex wards are better.

BagelDog Tue 31-Jan-17 20:56:11

Single sex wards are better, but lately we have been stuffed to the rafters with patients being put in wards of the wrong specialty, closed wards being opened, recovery acting as an overflow ITU, the urgent care bit of A&E acting as a ward, queues in the corridors etc, so I am very unsurprised if more mixing had happened as the bed pressure the last few months has been insane.

PencilsInSpace Tue 31-Jan-17 21:29:13

Thanks, Italian, I might screenshot that before it disappears to be replaced by some waffle about gender identity!

Bagel, I totally appreciate why it's difficult and I don't place any blame on hardworking NHS staff. The situation has come about because of chronic underfunding and things like the PFI scheme, which means that banks are creaming off 'profit' from the NHS. Useful background here.

It's not just that single-sex wards are 'better' though, in most circumstances they're a requirement and hospitals are expected to provide them - they get fined if they don't. This is from NHS Choices:

Will I be offered same-sex hospital accommodation?

Being in mixed-sex hospital accommodation can be difficult for some patients for a variety of personal and cultural reasons. All providers of NHS-funded care are expected to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation, except where it is in the overall best interests of the patient or reflects their personal choice.

While there are some circumstances where mixing can be justified, these are mainly confined to patients who need highly specialised care, such as the care given in critical care units. Find out about being detained under the Mental Health Act to learn more about this.

(that bit reads a bit weird to me - not sure mixed wards can be justified in MH confused)

There is no justification for placing a patient in mixed-sex accommodation where this is not in the best overall interests of the patient and where better management, better facilities, or the removal of organisational constraints could have averted the situation.

Since April 2011, hospitals have to provide a monthly report of the number of times they breach the Department of Health's same-sex accommodation guidance. The data is published on the Health and Social Care Information Centre website, and you can use this information to help you choose a hospital.

Hospitals can face fines of up to £250 for breaching the same-sex accommodation guidance. While this central reporting concentrates on sleeping accommodation, mixing in bathrooms and WCs is still unacceptable.

In so many circumstances these days we are being told that single sex facilities are not important - that if we care about preserving them we are pearl-clutching prudes or think that all men are rapists. I think it's important that the NHS has done the research and concluded that single sex wards are better for patients, even if it's becoming less manageable in practice.

BarrackerBarma Tue 31-Jan-17 22:22:40

Weird to see the NHS using the word SEX in a document. That'll get purged soon.

Italiangreyhound Tue 31-Jan-17 22:32:03

BagelDog if things are stuffed to the rafters and patients are put on the wrong wards is there any recording if this. So if patients complain is there any recognition of where they were put?

No one is blaming individual staff but could those individual incidents of patients being put on the wrong ward be excused because of overworked staff? When really if this is repeatedly happening it is a problem with funding and policy.

PencilsInSpace Tue 31-Jan-17 23:10:51

Yes Barracker, I'm saving and screenshotting all this stuff because I fully expect in the very near future we'll be told that NHS wards have always been segregated by GENDER and anyway what's our problem, Not All Men, Women Do It Too, Actual Violence To Trans. I won't be gaslighted any more.

Italian, all breaches of the single sex policy are recorded here.

venusinscorpio Tue 31-Jan-17 23:16:33

Yes I was reading about "gender discrimination" on the Guardian website yesterday. When what they were actually referring to was sex discrimination.

Datun Wed 01-Feb-17 08:20:50

It is clear from what patients tell us that being in mixed-sex accommodation can compromise their privacy and dignity at a time when they may already be feeling vulnerable. The most common concerns include physical exposure, being in an embarrassing or threatening situation, noise, and the possibility of other patients overhearing conversations about their condition.

...Women and elderly women in particular, are most likely to worry about being in mixed-sex accommodation

I actually felt a sense of relief when I read this (despite it probably being about to change).

It's shocking that something which has been understood by everybody, agreed upon and considered eminent common sense is now up for question.

And what really pisses me off, is the argument for including transwomen, often ends up with some people saying sex segregation is unnecessary anyway, across the board and pointing out they have no problem at all with unisex everything.

I wonder if it's age related? Because although I would still have preferred sex segregation when I was younger, experience has definitely strengthened that viewpoint.

pineappleshortbread Sat 04-Feb-17 05:54:08

We need to be careful not to get confused between wards and bays.

The ward I work on like all wards in my hospital is mixed sex however it has individual bays (4) which are gender based. The only single sex wards (bays included) is gynaecology and labour.
On my ward the toilets/showers are unisex.
When the government talk about single sex wards what they mean is the bays in the wards not the whole watd itself that would be exceedingly difficult and more effort than its worth.

At the end of the day people are more concerned with getting high quality care than with mixed sexed bays.

PencilsInSpace Sat 04-Feb-17 10:55:22

They talk about single sex accommodation. It's clear from Italiangreyhound's link that this sometimes means single sex bays. WRT toilets and showers, NHS choices says, While this central reporting concentrates on sleeping accommodation, mixing in bathrooms and WCs is still unacceptable.

At the end of the day people are more concerned with getting high quality care than with mixed sexed bays.

Do you think it just doesn't matter then?

Q) How do we position eliminating mixed-sex accommodation in the long list of clinical and organisational priorities?

A) Protecting patients privacy and dignity is integral to good quality patient care and should be part of an organisation’s overall ethos and approach.

(from Monthly Mixed-Sex Accommodation (MSA) Return FAQs)

Badcat666 Sat 04-Feb-17 11:06:22

I was in hospital a couple of years ago and frankly I wouldn't have given a rats arse if I ended up on a mixed ward. I was in too much bloody pain to give a toss and was just glad they fixed me.

I'm not "scared or threatened" by someone just because they have different body parts then me. Nor would I be concerned about a man using the same bathroom facilities as I did (when I started to feel better) I just wanted to get well. As did everyone else.

What did concern me more was I ended up in an high dependency ward which had a very old lady who had been there for weeks whilst her son tried to find her a suitable home for dementia sufferers. She had to stay there because she couldn't look after herself and her son worked away 5 days a week.

Hospitals are there to treat the ill, would people prefer they turn people away from A&E or cancel operations because there isn't enough room in a "single sexed ward" for them to go on?

Datun Sat 04-Feb-17 12:53:47

Obviously the whole purpose of being in hospital is to be cured or recover from whatever ails you.

And that is the priority. But once you are out of the life or death stage, or relieved from severe pain, it becomes just as important to feel comfortable.

Mixed sex wards were being phased out because sex segregation provided more comfort and dignity. But also because assaults were taking place. And it doesn't take many of those for people to start to be concerned.

A lot of long term patients are elderly. Many with dementia. Not only are they incredibly vulnerable, dementia can produce completely uncharacteristic behaviour. Swearing, sexual comments, etc. People wander around indiscriminately.

I would infinitely prefer a female only environment, but of course, if there is none, I'll take my treatment any way I can.

Some people might well be okay with mixed sex wards. But try taking your 85-year-old disabled mother to the bathroom, and everything that entails, with a 25-year-old man standing next to her.

PencilsInSpace Sat 04-Feb-17 12:58:25

Ah well, there ya go - single-sex hospital accommodation doesn't matter and anyone who thinks it does is making a silly fuss. That was predictable grin

You could do a great thing for the NHS if you're ever in hospital again, Badcat. Make sure you tell staff you're actively happy to be in mixed sex accommodation. That way, if they put you in a mixed bay, they won't have to record your stay as a breach and incur a fine.

Of course they'll still be fined for anybody else in your mixed bay who hasn't declared themselves happy with the situation, because the NHS recognises that many people are NOT happy sharing accommodation with strangers of the opposite sex, especially when they are unwell and feeling vulnerable.

Why did you put 'scared or threatened' in quotes? It makes it look like you are quoting someone confused

Badcat666 Sat 04-Feb-17 13:52:43

I'm sorry I don't agree with you Pencil and I wasn't saying anyone who thinks single sex ward is right was making a silly fuss. You said that.

I am allowed to have my own thoughts on the matter, just because I don't agree with you doesn't make me wrong or right.

If I ever do end up in A&E again and had to wait 12 hours in terrible pain that made me throw up and pass out because there wasn't a bed for me at the time in a main ward, (and the Doctors and specialist I needed to see where in surgery trying to save someones life) I would happily ask to be put in a mixed ward but when I went to A&E I was in too much pain to say very much at the time (apart from cry and scream occasionally (which I did say sorry to the nurses and Doctors for)) and wasn't given that option. In my case was there were no beds anywhere that day so everyone had a long wait but men and women were in the cubicle area during that time.

I used quotes because that is just how I typed it.

Also on the wards the bathroom is one room, with loo, basin and shower and a lockable door so are completely private. I was helped into the bathroom by a male Doctor one day because the female nurses were busy, I was just so grateful for the help.

pineappleshortbread Sat 04-Feb-17 17:57:17

I do believe in sez segregated bays I think it is important I just don't want people to be confused and believe its the entire ward that is mixed sex and that you wont se someone of the opposite sex on the ward as that is just not true.

I also have issues when it comes to gender, trans community and bays. I spoke to my site manager once about the police regarding trans gender parients and they said they try to side room them where possible however I know they have put a transmale (pre op) in a male bay and this concerns me as womens rights and safety is very important and could be put at risk.

PencilsInSpace Sat 04-Feb-17 18:33:25

Badcat, I'm pleased to hear you don't think people are making a silly fuss if they want single sex accommodation. I think we're in agreement then, aren't we?

I'm aware there are some people, like you, who are happy to share accommodation with the opposite sex. The policy is there to protect those who are not happy though.

As an analogy, I would personally not give a rats arse if someone sparked up a fag in a pub but I recognise it's not all about me.

Badcat666 Sat 04-Feb-17 18:39:33

Pencil I wouldn't give a rodents bum either about someone sparking up a ciggie in a pub either but I know where you're coming from. grin

In an ideal world single sexed wards would be the best for everyone, it's just so sad when the NHS need every penny they get fined for having mixed wards if those wards are full.

PencilsInSpace Sat 04-Feb-17 18:46:06

And I absolutely do realise the NHS is on its knees these days and it's totally understandable that there are breaches of this policy. What I would like is a properly funded health service without anything being syphoned off for private profit. A health service with enough resources to ensure all patients' safety, dignity and privacy is respected.

I'm aware things are only going to get worse in the NHS and I wouldn't be surprised if the single sex policy is quietly abandoned in the near future both because of finances and because of the transagenda. For now though, there is a policy in place, the NHS makes statements about the importance of single-sex (not gender!) accommodation and thinks it's important enough to impose fines for breaches.

I will also not be surprised when we are told it has always been segregated by gender, not sex, and anyway it doesn't matter.

SpartacusWoman Sat 04-Feb-17 19:18:41

Last year I had to have a breast lump removed, my appointment letter said that the outpatient ward I was going in is mixed, but they do their best to keep individual bays single sex.

I wasn't scared or frightened at the possibility of having blokes on the ward, not sure what the right word to describe how I felt is, embarassed, awkward? I know other people in the ward would have been too busy worrying about themselves, but I still would have felt uncomfortable talking about my tits with a strange man in the next bed.

Thankfully it was all women, which was a relief and meant I was more comfortable when the surgeon came and told me about my operation, where they'd cut and that they'd removed three lumps, that the women overhearing were other women in the same situation.

obv, if it was mixed ward or no ward, I'd have my lump removed, but Id be a liar if I said I'd be totally fine and relaxed about discussing my tits with a bloke overhearing and I know this is my own stupid fault but I'd be less likely to ask Embarassing questions.

BBCNewsRave Sat 04-Feb-17 22:33:26

Badcat I'm not "scared or threatened" by someone just because they have different body parts then me.

Neither am I.
I am, however, scared and threatened by the way many of those with different body parts behave towards people with my body parts, because of the different roles and expectations society places on us because of our respective body parts.

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