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Same-sex hospital accommodation

About same-sex accommodation

Being in mixed-sex hospital accommodation can be difficult for some patients for a variety of personal and cultural reasons. Therefore all providers of NHS-funded care are expected to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation, except where it is in the overall best interest of the patient or reflects their personal choice. 

Since April 2011, hospitals have had to provide a monthly report of the number of times they breach the Department of Health’s same-sex accommodation guidance and you can use this information to help you choose a hospital. Find out how your local hospital performs on same-sex accommodation (xls,143kb)

Hospitals can face fines of up to £250 for breaching the same-sex accommodation guidance. Since the introduction of the fine, the number of breaches has fallen significantly. Nevertheless, there is more to do to ensure that same-sex accommodation is available for patients at every stage of their care.

Find more detailed information on the hospital accommodation FAQ page.

Mental health and learning disability organisations

It is government policy that all NHS organisations are expected to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation except where it is in the best interests of the patient or reflects their personal choice.

While there are some circumstances where mixing can be justified, these are mainly confined to patients who need highly specialised care, such as that delivered in critical care units.

There is no justification for placing a patient in mixed-sex accommodation where this is not in the best overall interests of the patient and where better management, better facilities or the removal of organisational constraints could have averted the situation.

Guidance has been produced for providers of NHS-funded care that makes it clear there is no acceptable justification for admitting a mental health patient to mixed-sex sleeping accommodation. For more information see the Mental Health Network briefing Delivering same-sex accommodation in mental health and learning disability services, (PDF 471kb).

Since April 2011, all providers of NHS-funded care have had to report instances where patients have unjustifiably had to share sleeping accommodation and have faced fines of £250 for each breach reported. While this central reporting concentrates on sleeping accommodation, mixing in bathrooms and WCs is still unacceptable.

Breaches of bathroom accommodation, including situations where patients must pass through opposite sex areas to reach their open facilities must be monitored at organisational level and plans put in place to deal with the problem. In mental health units, the provision of women-only day rooms must be included in these plans. The plans should be agreed with service commissioners who will hold them to account for delivery.

Page last reviewed: 09/09/2014

Next review due: 09/09/2016

Same-sex accommodation in hospitals

Find out why same-sex accommodation is so important for privacy and dignity, and what the NHS is doing to support hospitals in delivering it.

Media last reviewed: 11/07/2015

Next review due: 11/07/2017