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Trust virtually eliminates mixed sex accommodation on wards

29 March 2010

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is delighted to confirm that it has virtually eliminated mixed sex accommodation from our hospital.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is delighted to confirm that it has virtually eliminated mixed sex accommodation from our hospital.

Monitor, the Foundation Trust regulator, requires all Foundation Trusts to confirm whether they are compliant with a commitment to virtually eliminate mixed sex accommodation by 31 March 2010.

Andrew MacCallum, Director of Nursing says: “I would like to reassure patients on our wards that the area where their bed is located will only have patients of the same sex.

“In addition, toilets and bathrooms will be designated male or female and will be close to their bed. In line with national policy, the sexes will only be mixed when there is a clinical need and it is in the best interests of patients, for example intensive care.”

The Trust is committed to safeguarding the privacy and dignity of patients which is why we have been working towards the virtual elimination of mixed sex accommodation.

Patients at Chelsea and Westminster will only share accommodation with a member of the opposite sex if they:

  • Require specialist facilities that can only be provided in the Intensive Care Unit (including High Dependency) or the Coronary Care Unit
  • Are admitted as an emergency and require observation overnight
  • Require a level of care that cannot be accommodated in a single sex bay

It is possible that there will be both male and female patients on the same ward but patients of the opposite sex will not be accommodated in shared bays of beds. Patients may have to cross a ward corridor to reach a bathroom but they will not have to walk through areas occupied by patients of the opposite sex to get there.

Patients may share some communal space, such as day rooms, and it is very likely that visitors and healthcare professionals of both sexes will come into shared bays of beds.

If patients need help to use the toilet or take a bath, they may be taken to a ‘unisex’ bathroom but a member of staff will accompany them and other patients will not be in the bathroom at the same time anyway.

It is also important to note that the Trust will not turn away patients just because single sex accommodation is not available immediately.

How have we improved the privacy and dignity of patients?

  • The Trust has a policy to ensure that patients are transferred to single sex accommodation within an agreed timeframe
  • Matrons are responsible for monitoring bays on wards to ensure they are co-located to the relevant toilet and bathroom facilities
  • All wards have eye masks and ear plugs available for patients to use
  • Privacy and dignity audits are carried out and actions implemented
  • A Trustwide privacy and dignity audit in 2009 of more than 40 departments found that 93% of patients had their personal space respected

What are our future plans?

The Trust aims to have 50% single rooms in the hospital within the next five to 10 years.