Wigan's hospital trust breaks single sex ward rules

A rule preventing patients of different sexes from sharing the same ward was breached several times by Wigan’s hospital trust over a six-month period, figures reveal.
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The Patients Association said the violations were an "affront to patients' dignity”.

Hospitals have been expected to eliminate mixed-sex wards – except in justified situations, such as in intensive care – since 2010.

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But NHS England figures show between October and March, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) recorded five breaches of the rules.

Mixed-sex ward rules were brokenMixed-sex ward rules were broken
Mixed-sex ward rules were broken

Hospital bosses dispute this figure, but admit there were two breaches in that period.

This was compared to no breaches between October 2019 and February 2020 – the latest comparable period.

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Data was not recorded between March 2020 and September 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Rabina Tindale, the trust’s chief nurse, said: “Between October 2021 and March 2022, only two same-sex ward breaches were made at WWL.

“These breaches occurred during January 2022 when the Covid-19 virus was at a peak in the North West and reflected the pressures across the whole of the NHS at that time.

“On the rare occasion that this does occur, every effort is made to rectify the situation as soon as possible and staff take extra care to safeguard privacy and dignity of the patients at all times.”

Across England, 16,576 breaches were recorded between October and March – up from 12,947 between October 2019 and February 2020, and the highest number for the period since 2010-11.

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Between October 2014 and March 2015, there were just 1,740 breaches nationally.

The Patients Association said it understands the challenges the NHS faced during the pandemic, but it must restore services to pre-Covid levels.

Chief executive Rachel Power said: "The figures for March are of great concern – mixed sex wards are an affront to patients’ dignity.

"No patient wants to receive intimate, personal care on a mixed sex ward and it's the sort of stress that doesn't promote recovery."

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An NHS spokesman said: “The reported breaches illustrate the ongoing pressures on NHS providers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"NHS staff work hard to maintain our patients’ privacy, dignity and safety – and most trusts have eliminated breaches."

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