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Health: Mixed-sex NHS Wards

Volume 687: debated on Monday 18 December 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Warner on 9 October (WA 71) on mixed-sex wards, whether they will define the construction of a single-sex bay. [HL707]

The National Health Service data dictionary does not give a definition for a bay. Its smallest unit is a ward. However, there have been several statements that move towards a working description. The first of these was in 1997, when the Department of Health issued guidance on eliminating mixed-sex accommodation. This stated:

“at a point where a ward has been divided into separate areas to segregate the sexes, there should be screening which is adequate to ensure privacy is maintained, eg which will prevent patients being overheard and overseen by others where this is not desirable”.

In 2002, NHS Estates issued Enhancing Privacy and Dignity—Achieving Single Sex Accommodation. This offered a number of design solutions using various arrangements of bays, single rooms and open areas, and demonstrated the wide range of acceptable solutions.

Also in 2002, in response to a Parliamentary Question, the following advice was given on how wards could be separated into bays:

“Partitioning can be used to divide wards into bays as a means of achieving an acceptable method of protecting patients’ privacy and dignity. To ensure that they provide adequate physical separation, sound reduction and visual privacy the partition must be permanent, rigid and fixed to the building structure. A mobile privacy screen alone is not an acceptable solution to enhancing privacy and dignity for the patient”.