Delivering Same-Sex Accommodation

Declaration of compliance

Northern Devon Healthcare Trust is pleased to confirm that we are compliant with the Government’s requirement to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation, except when it is in the patient’s overall best interest, or reflects their personal choice. We have the necessary facilities, resources and culture to ensure that patients who are admitted to our hospitals will only share the room where they sleep with members of the same sex, and same-sex toilets and bathrooms will be close to their bed area. Sharing with members of the opposite sex will only happen when clinically necessary (for example where patients need specialist medical intervention in our Intensive Care Unit, Coronary Care Unit, Acute Stroke Unit and on occasions within our Medical Assessment Unit) or when patients actively choose to share.

If our care should fall short of the required standard, we will report it. We will also set up an audit mechanism to make sure that we do not misclassify any of our reports. We will publish the results of that audit within our regular performance reports which are presented to the Trust Board.

Update June 2011: For more information on how we are working to ensure the privacy and dignity of all our patients, please see our latest press release

What does this mean for patients?

Other than in the circumstances set out above, patients admitted to Northern Devon Healthcare Trust can expect to find the following

Same sex-accommodation means:

  • The room where your bed is will only have patients of the same sex as you
  • Your toilet and bathroom will be just for your gender, and will be close to your bed area

It is possible that there will be both men and women patients on the ward, but they will not share your sleeping area. You may have to cross a ward corridor to reach your bathroom, but you will not have to walk through opposite-sex areas.

You may share some communal space, such as day rooms or dining rooms, and it is very likely that you will see both men and women patients as you move around the hospital (eg on your way to X-ray or the operating theatre).

It is probable that visitors of the opposite gender will come into the room where your bed is, and this may include patients visiting each other.

It is almost certain that both male and female nurses, doctors and other staff will come into your bed area.

If you need help to use the toilet or take a bath (eg you need a hoist or special bath) then you may be taken to a “unisex” bathroom used by both men and women, but a member of staff will be with you, and other patients will not be in the bathroom at the same time.

The NHS will not turn patients away just because a “right-sex” bed is not immediately available

Update June 2011: For more information on how we are working to ensure the privacy and dignity of all our patients, please see our latest press release

How will we measure success?

The Trust reviews any incident where patients are not cared for in same sex accommodation to understand the reasons for this and, where appropriate take the necessary actions to ensure that this does not happen again.

What do I do if I think I am in mixed sex accommodation?

We want to know about your experiences. Please contact our Patient Advice & Liaison Service on 01271 314090 if you have any comments or concerns.

National Programme

The Department of Health has given a clear pledge to deliver same sex NHS accommodation by the end of June 2009 and is funding improvements worth nearly £10 million across the South West through the Privacy and Dignity Challenge Fund.

Mixed sex accommodation in hospitals is where patients of opposite gender (male and female) have to share either sleeping accommodation, toilets or washing facilities.

Same sex accommodation in hospitals can be provided in:

  • Single sex wards where the whole ward is occupied only by men or by women
  • Single rooms
  • Mixed wards where men and women are in separate bays or rooms

Separate toilet and washing facilities for men and women should also be provided, preferably within or next to the bay or room. Patients should not need to walk through opposite sex accommodation, toilet or washing facilities to get to their own designated areas or facilities

Last updated: October 5, 2017