Over the last year we have carried out one of the most far-reaching ward improvement programmes ever undertaken by Ashford and St Peter’s. To date we have refurbished eleven wards across the Trust, including all four wards at Ashford Hospital, to ensure they comply with the single sex agenda as well as meeting the very latest standards on hygiene and cleanliness.
In January 2009, the Secretary of State for Health announced an intensive drive to all but eliminate mixed sex accommodation and Strategic Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts offered their support to providers to help them achieve this. Trusts and other providers were required to complete a ’declaration of compliance’ by the end of March 2010, stating whether or not they were able to declare the virtual elimination of mixed sex accommodation and its continued delivery. This will be a major performance target for organisations, and to demonstrate our continued commitment we have published our declaration on this website.
The work we have undertaken means that all our patients can now be accommodated in single sex accommodation, which means either;
- Same-sex wards (the whole ward is occupied by either men or women but not both)
- Single rooms with adjacent or en-suite same-sex toilet and washing facilities
- Same-sex bays with adjacent or en-suite same-sex toilet and washing facilities
The majority of our wards comprise of the latter set-up (same sex bays) which means we can still provide the specialist clinical care patients require.
We have always tried to ensure patients are accommodated in bays of the same sex, but this work – which has included building work, refurbishments and introducing additional bathroom and toilet facilities – will make this much easier and has enabled us to eliminate mixed sex accommodation in all but the most difficult of circumstances.
Of course there are some areas and occasions where this isn’t possible and a patient’s clinical need overrides their need for single sex accommodation, such as in our intensive care and high dependency units. In these circumstances our staff work hard to ensure that patients, while they are receiving what is often life-saving treatment, are put at their ease and maintain their dignity as much as possible.
If it is absolutely impossible to provide separate accommodation in rare and extenuating circumstances, then our staff will be expected to rectify the situation as soon as possible, whilst safeguarding the individuals’ dignity and keeping the patient informed about why this has happened, what we are doing to address it and how long this will take. These situations are taken very seriously and each case is reviewed to ensure we learn from the experience. From March 2010 we have been obliged to report any breach of our ‘single sex standard’ to the Trust board.
Our target is to ensure no patients are accommodated in mixed sex bays (apart from the clinical exception areas mentioned earlier) after 1st April 2010. So far we have succeeded, if however we fail to meet this target then commissioners – in our case this is predominantly NHS Surrey – will not pay us for the care of these patients. It’s that important, to us and to the Department of Health that we work hard to get this right.
Our progress is documented in the attachment below: