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Mixed sex hospital wards still exist despite Labour pledges
11:48am Friday 9th January 2009 in News
Epsom and St Helier hospitals are still treating patients in mixed-sex wards, despite government’s decade old promises to stop the practice.
According to research by the Conservative Party, seven of London's hospital trusts are still treating men and women in Nightingale wards, where patients cannot even count on a curtain for privacy.
Male and female patients in the Epsom and St Helier, Barts and London, Whipps Cross, Barnet and Chase Farm, Moorfields Eye and King's College and Hillingdon hospital NHS Trusts are also forced to share lavatories and bathrooms.
According to the research 15 per cent of hospital trusts across the country still use "Nightingale" wards, while 16 per cent have wards where patients are only separated by curtains.
Labour pledged to scrap the wards as part of its 1997 election manifesto and the Health Secretary Alan Johnson stated last April that the government was within "touching distance" of eradicating the unpopular wards altogether.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "Despite hearing Labour ministers make promise after promise to end the scandal of mixed-sex wards, we have not seen the necessary action and they continue to blight our hospitals. It has been a long list of promises made and broken."
However, the Department of Health claimed progress is being made in reducing mixed-sex wards. A spokesman said: "There will be some instances where urgent medical care must take precedence over complete gender segregation."