Assembly push for single-sex hospital wards

Health Minister Edwina Hart AM has announced a new drive to bring an end to mixed sex hospital wards in Wales.

Under Ms Hart’s plans, all new hospitals are to include single-sex wards while existing hospitals with mixed-sex wards will be ordered to ensure that there are separate male and female areas, especially bathrooms and toilets.

“Patients expect and deserve the utmost dignity in the care they receive and we must do more to ensure that the highest standards are provided. This new guidance will ensure that we raise the quality higher,” Ms Hart said.

Plans for two new hospitals – Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan in Ebbw Vale and Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr in Caerphilly – already conform to Ms Hart’s guidance, with single en suite rooms for every patient.

Mixed-sex wards are still the norm in most older hospitals and mental health units throughout Wales.

A report by the Mental Health Act Commission earlier this year suggested that the safety of mental health patients can be jeopardised by the practice of accommodating male and female patients on the same wards.

The Health Minister has this year announced that a number of new mental health units will be built in different parts of Wales, including two adult units at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, and a two new CAMHS facilities in North and South Wales, but it is unclear whether these will have single-sex wards.