“Ensuring patients’ privacy and dignity in hospital is extremely important…” says Chief Nurse.
In November 2010 the Department of Health issued updated guidance on eliminating mixed sex accommodation and extended this beyond inpatient wards to include Endoscopy (where most patients are only in the Unit for a couple of hours), Day Surgery and Clinical Decision Units (where patients are assessed before admission).
In December 2010 NHS Isle of Wight was required to formally report the number of breaches of single sex accommodation. A breach is calculated on the total number of patients affected in the bay at any one time. A breach occurs at the point a patient is admitted to mixed-sex accommodation outside the terms of the locally agreed policy. Mixing may be justified (i.e. NOT a breach) if it is in the overall best interest of the patient, or reflects their personal choice. There are some areas and occasions where mixing can be justified such as the Intensive Care Unit where a patient’s clinical need overrides their need for single sex accommodation.
Since 1st April 2011, which is the point whereby NHS Trusts can be fined for single sex accommodation breaches, there have been no breaches reported.
Carol Alstrom, Chief Nurse and Director of Infection Prevention and Control said: “Ensuring patients’ privacy and dignity in hospital is extremely important and we have worked hard and continue to do so to reduce the incidence of mixed sex accommodation, recognising that when this happens it is distressing for patients.
“The latest guidance was issued in November 2010 and we have reviewed procedures to ensure that patients coming in to the Endoscopy Unit and who do not need to undress for their procedure remain clothed. We are also working with clinicians to look at the clinical pathways for patients to reduce the risk of male and female patients being cared for in the same environment after their procedure, this includes changing the environment to create male and female recovery areas.”
You can find out more about the action taken by NHS Isle of Wight to safeguard patient privacy and dignity by visiting our website at www.iow.nhs.uk/dignityincare. Performance against this area is reported as part of the PCT's Quality Report which can be viewed at www.iow.nhs.uk/performance.
‘Sleeping accommodation’ includes areas where patients are admitted and cared for on beds or trolleys, even where they do not stay overnight. It therefore includes all admissions and assessment units (including clinical decision units), plus day surgery and endoscopy units. It does not include areas where patients have not been admitted, such as accident and emergency cubicles.