From January 2011, all occurrences of patients being placed in mixed-sex accommodation by a service will have to be reported and information will be published, so that patients and members of the public will be able to see which services are delivering substandard care, and choose to be treated elsewhere. In addition, when a patient has been placed in mixed-sex accommodation without clinical justification, commissioners will be able to levy a fine. The move will apply to all wards except intensive care and A&E.

Theresa also praised the work of Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals who have already abolished mixed-sex wards and were used as a model example in a report by the Department of Health looking into progress made by the NHS in delivering same-sex hospital accommodation.

Theresa said, “Patients should not have to suffer the indignity of mixed-sex wards. Sleeping or being treated in a bay next to a person of the opposite sex can cause patients to be unjustifiably anxious when they are at their most vulnerable. The Government is determined to put an end to this practice where it is not clinically justified.”

“Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals have many buildings of a varying age and layout. They have shown that, with care and thought, it is possible to achieve same sex-wards only. It's welcome that the hospital has been used as an example; it's always important to give credit to sensible management decisions.”