West Midlands Hospital Fined Over Mixed Ward Error

New Cross Hospital Must Now Pay £1,750 To Regulators


New Cross Hospital in the West Midlands has been told it must pay a fine of £1,750 after it breached rules on mixed-sex wards.

Executives at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust revealed the incident took place in November 2013, when a patient that was being moved from a critical care unit was put in a ward with members of the opposite sex, reports the Express and Star.

This is against government rules, which dictate that - wherever possible - people in hospitals should be segregated depending on their gender, as this allows for greater levels of comfort and reduced distress.

Despite the breach, as well as the subsequent fine, Gwen Nuttall, chief operating officer at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, remains optimistic about New Cross Hospital's performance.

Ms Nuttall said this was the first breach of its kind since June, when a similar incident took place - resulting in a £1,750 fine.

"The Trust works very hard to ensure that mixed sex breaches are minimised and rarely has any of these incidents," the executive noted.

"Unfortunately, in this incident, it took longer than we would have liked to identify appropriate gender beds for patients being transferred from [an intensive treatment unit] on to a ward."

In a guidance report delivered to hospitals in early 2011, the government revealed it would begin issuing fines to trusts that failed to properly segregate patients depending on their gender.

Officials at the Department of Health argued that staff needed to do more to ensure that women had access to day spaces away from men - especially in mental health care facilities - as this improved wellbeing.

The move came as part of a wider drive by then-secretary of state for health Andrew Lansley, who wanted to make the dignity of patients a priority for the NHS.

Mr Lansley was replaced by former secretary of state for culture, media and sport Jeremy Hunt in late 2012.

Expert Opinion
It is important that steps are taken by the Trust to ensure that the government guidelines are followed and that patients in all wards across the hospital are comfortable during their stay.

“All patients who enter hospital expect and deserve a high standard of safe care and that must extend right across the board to including the standards on each ward. Patient safety and wellbeing must remain the highest priority for all staff who work in the healthcare sector.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner