32 cases of health trusts breaching single-sex wards policy across Norfolk

The highest number of breaches occured at Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn NHS Foundation Trust.

The highest number of breaches occured at Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn NHS Foundation Trust. PHOTO: IAN BURT. - Credit: IAN BURT

A total of 32 patients were placed on mixed-sex wards across the region's health trusts last month despite the NHS attempting to stamp out the practice five years ago.

Incidents of exceptional demand for beds is cited as the reason why male and female patients were occasionally put on the same ward together.

The majority of the breaches happened at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (18), in King's Lynn, and James Paget Hospital (12), in Gorleston. There were no breaches at Norfolk's largest health provider, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

NHS England has the power to fine trusts £250 per day for each failure.

Their figures, published yesterday, showed there were two breaches at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and none at Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.

Catherine Morgan, director of nursing at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said: 'We unfortunately did experience some mixed-sex accommodation breaches in January.

'If a patient is being cared for in the intensive care unit and is then assessed as no longer requiring intensive care support and is suitable for ward level care; there is a requirement to achieve this within a set timeframe.

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'When the hospital is under significant pressure, for example in winter, it is sometimes not possible to move the patient within the timescale.

'This is classified as a breach although physically our patient has not changed bed. In some instances a small fine could be payable as a result.

'We want all patients to receive excellent care from us. If they are on a mixed ward we discuss the situation fully with them and continue to maintain their privacy and dignity until an alternative bed becomes available.'

A spokesman for James Paget Hospital said: 'During January the trust experienced a number of periods of significant operational pressure.

'Due to this it was not possible to comply with mixed sex requirements on two occasions.

'We do take these breaches very seriously and we can confirm our patients' privacy and dignity was maintained at all times.'

The patients affected were on the hospital's acute coronary unit and hyper acute stroke unit over a period of seven days.

The spokesman added that the trust had not been fined by NHS England.

Have you got a health story? Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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