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Remember when New labour promised to do away with the indignity of male and female hospital patients sharing the same ward? So does Barbara Panvel, and she’s furious that they’ve quietly dropped that commitment.

Another manifesto commitment - made in 1997 and 2001 - to bring an end to male and female patients sharing facilities in NHS hospitals, has been broken. The Department of Health has now said, in answer to an inquiry about the delay in achieving this, that it is “no longer an aim”.

Several recent reports have said that, for several reasons - including MRSA control - the ideal hospital accommodation is the single room. And though some patients prefer the companionship of a ward, I have yet to hear of a prospective patient who welcomes mixed sex wards, toilet and washing facilities.

Patients' charities have argued for years that mixed-sex wards are undesirable and a number of female patients in recent years have been the victims of assault from men in mixed-sex wards.

The Patients Association has taken increasing numbers of calls from patients and relatives who relate frightening stories of lack of privacy, embarrassment and even attack by disturbed or deranged male patients. Teenage boys in mixed wards have been disturbed by the activities of demented male and female patients.

If you enter ‘mixed wards’ into a search engine, you will be really shaken by reading about the experiences of people in our hospitals. Add to this the very real concerns about MRSA, C-difficile and iatrogenic [medically caused] illness and death . . .

Mervyn Kohler, of Help the Aged, shows insight:

Going into hospital can be a fraught enough experience as it is, especially for older, more vulnerable patients, without being burdened with the worry and utter humiliation of undressing and bathing on a mixed sex ward.

Is the NHS’ main aim to serve patients or to make a profit?

Let’s hope that that commonsense and humane feelings lead the government to reconsider its attitude - and readers remember: you, your closest friend, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, mother, father, sister, son, daughter, husband or wife could be placed in one of these wards if unfortunate in the post-code lottery: there are still mixed sex wards in 80% of the country’s NHS Trusts.

Should mixed wards be scrapped?

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