'Zero tolerance' to mixed sex wards at Salisbury District Hospital

'Zero tolerance' to mixed sex wards at Salisbury District Hospital

Published by Faye Tryhorn at 6:25am 22nd October 2019.

3 minute read

The local NHS Trust has said they 'protect patients' privacy and dignity', but admit there have been some breaches.

In the year to the end of August 2019, there were 432 occasions when patients were placed into mixed sex accommodation at our hospital.

But the Salisbury NHS Trust has told Spire FM that all of them were resolved within 24 hours, and were in areas where separation can be more difficult:

  • 391 patients affected were in the Acute Medical Unit assessment bay
  • 41 were in the Surgical assessment unit
  • None of the breaches were on longer term stay wards
Mixed Sex Wards RADAR
Figures have been revealed showing how many times patients were placed in mixed sex accommodation over the course of a year

A Trust spokesperson said: 

'We make every effort to protect our patients' privacy and dignity, which includes a zero tolerance approach to the use of mixed sex accommodation. However, at times of very high demand, it is sometimes necessary, in the interest of patient safety, to use all available space in assessment and ambulatory areas, even if that may technically be in breach of the guidance. All patients are moved to a single sex area as soon as possible. The Trust treats privacy and dignity with the utmost seriousness for all patients in our care."


NHS guidance for patients means hospitals are effectively banned from having mixed sex wards.

Trusts can be fined £250 for every breach of those rules.

That would add up to £108,000 for Salisbury District Hospital over the last year.

But imposing those fines is down to the local Clinical Commissioning Group, and it's been the decision of Wiltshire CCG not to force the NHS Trust to pay up.

In a statement, they've said they're satisfied with the reasons behind the Salisbury breaches:

"Wiltshire CCG receive regular quality information relating Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust's performance against the national Delivering Same Sex Accommodation Guidance. We are assured that although the Trust have experienced breaches during busy periods at the hospital, these have been when absolutely necessary and the privacy and dignity of patients has been protected with single sex accommodation returning as soon as practically possible. The CCG has chosen not to issue sanctions to the Trust in the interest of supporting continued development in patient care."

Salisbury District Hospital Redlynch ward (SDH)
None of the breaches at SDH were in long term stay wards


Lucy Watson, chair of the Patient's Association charity, said hospitals that weren't following the rules could cause additional anxiety for people already worried about inpatient care:

"We are very concerned that people are still being placed in inappropriate hospital accommodation, many years after mixed-sex wards were supposedly abolished.

"It shouldn't matter where in the country you are admitted to hospital - everyone has a right to be treated in an appropriate environment that allows them to keep their dignity."

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