Fewer patients are staying in mixed sex accommodation, according to new figures out today.
The Department of Health says that since December 2010, when the monthly collection of mixed sex accommodation data was introduced, the number of breaches has dropped from 11,802 to 2,011 – a decrease of 83%.
In May 2011, hospitals reported that 2,011 patients were placed in mixed-sex accommodation without any justification. This compares to 2,660 for April 2011 – a decrease of 24 per cent.
Some 103 acute trusts (62 per cent) reported zero sleeping breaches (compared to 59 per cent in April 2011). And 42 acute trusts reported a reduction in the number of breaches in May 2011.
The previous administration introduced a system of fines for breaches. Prior to June 2010, any breaches would incur a fine however short the breach, equivalent to the cost of the service or treatment for the procedure in question. For example, a patient in hospital for a hip operation would incur a fine of £5600, but a patient in hospital for a hernia operation, would incur a fine of £959.
But the Department of Health says that under this system fines could vary dramatically and that there is “little evidence of them being applied where breaches occurred”.
From April 2011 new contract arrangements simplify and strengthen sanctions further and a flat rate of £250 per patient affected per day will be charged. The DH says it will be kept under regular review to ensure it is fair and appropriate.
Health Minister Simon Burns said: “Today’s figures show that the tough action we have taken is having a sustained impact on reducing mixed sex accommodation breaches. Greater transparency has now driven down breaches by more than 80 per cent since December. I’d like to pay tribute to all the NHS staff across the country who have worked so hard to make this happen.
“However, there are still too many breaches. This is why hospitals face fines of £250 for every breach, which can then be reinvested back into patient care.”