Will I be offered a same-sex hospital ward?

If you need to go into hospital, you will usually be offered same-sex accommodation.

What is same-sex accommodation?

Same-sex accommodation means:

  • a ward occupied by only men or only women, with its own toilet and washing facilities
  • single rooms with same-sex toilet and washing facilities (preferably en-suite)
  • multi-bed bays or rooms occupied by only men or only women, with their own same-sex toilet and washing facilities

You shouldn’t have to pass through opposite-sex accommodation, toilets or washing facilities to reach your own toilet and washing facilities, or to reach other hospital services.

Same-sex accommodation can be provided in single-sex and mixed-sex wards.

What’s happening to mixed-sex accommodation?

Mixed-sex accommodation is being eliminated. Funding has been provided to improve hospital accommodation and to give information and guidance to hospital staff, patients and the public.

Since April 2011, hospitals have had to report publicly on the number of times they breach mixed-sex accommodation guidance. They can be fined up to £250 each time they do.

Why will some wards still be mixed sex?

The NHS has pledged its commitment to ensuring that if you’re admitted to hospital, you will not have to share sleeping accommodation with patients of the opposite sex, except where appropriate. Patients often benefit from being treated in the same area as other patients with similar conditions, so that they can be treated by appropriate specialist staff. Therefore, wards are often arranged by speciality, rather than gender.

Men and women can be separated within a mixed-sex ward by placing them in separate bays. A bay is a sleeping area, enclosed on three sides with solid walls (not curtains, as they don't provide sufficient privacy or security). The fourth side may be open or partially closed. Bays typically have four to six beds each.

What will happen if I’m put in mixed-sex accommodation?

If you’re put in accommodation with members of the opposite sex, you’ll be moved to same-sex accommodation as soon as possible. Until that time, staff will take extra care to protect your privacy, particularly when you’re sleeping and using toilets and washing facilities.

What should I do if I’m not happy with my hospital accommodation?

If you're unhappy with your location on a ward, you can:

For answers to the most frequently asked questions about same-sex wards, see hospital accommodation FAQs.

Read the answers to more questions about NHS services and treatments

Further information

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: 24/10/2013

Next review due: 24/10/2015

Page last reviewed: 11/12/2014

Next review due: 10/12/2016