We recognise that when patients are unwell and in our hospitals they want to be cared for in pleasant surroundings, and in a way that respects their privacy and dignity from the moment they arrive.
Our commitment to maintaining patient privacy and dignity means our staff know how important it is to respect and protect patients’ rights and expectations whilst in our care.
This includes their values, beliefs and personal relationships and applies to all our patients, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, social or cultural backgrounds, or their psychological or physical requirements.
Dignity in care
We are proud to be part of the national ‘Dignity in care’ campaign’. Our involvement includes staff, patients and visitors to share and apply good practice so people in our hospitals are always treated with dignity and respect.
Dignity covers all aspects of daily life including respect, privacy, autonomy and self-worth.
The Dignity in care’s ‘10 Dignity Do’s’ describe the values and actions that high quality care services should have:
- Have a zero tolerance of all forms of abuse
- Support people with the same respect you would want for yourself or a member of your family
- Treat each person as an individual by offering a personalised service
- Enable people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control
- Listen and support people to express their needs and wants
- Respect people’s right to privacy
- Ensure people feel able to complain without fear of retribution
- Engage with family members and carers as care partners
- Assist people to maintain confidence and positive self-esteem
- Act to alleviate people’s loneliness and isolation
We meet the Government’s requirement to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation, unless it is in the patient’s overall best interest, or reflects their personal choice.
We have the facilities, resources, and culture, to ensure that patients, who are admitted to our hospitals will only share the room where they sleep with members of the same sex, and that same-sex toilets and bathrooms will be close to their bed area.
Sharing with members of the opposite sex will only happen when clinically necessary (for example, where patients need specialist equipment such as in a Critical Care Unit), or when patients actively choose to share (for instance in a renal dialysis unit).
If our care should fall short of the required standard, we will report it. We will also set up an audit mechanism, through our Clinical Assurance Tool, to make sure that our reports are correct. We will publish the results of that audit as part of regular reports to our Board of Directors.
What does this mean for patients?
Same-sex accommodation means:
- the room where your bed is will only have patients of the same sex as you
- your toilet and bathroom will be just for your gender, and will be close to your bed area.
It is possible that there will be both men and women patients on the ward, but they will not share your sleeping area. You may have to cross a ward corridor to reach your bathroom, but you will not have to walk through opposite-sex areas.
You may share some communal space, such as day rooms or dining rooms, and it is very likely that you will see both men and women patients as you move around the hospital. This may be whilst you are on your way to x-ray or the operating theatre.
It is probable that visitors of the opposite gender will come into the room where your bed is, and this may include patients visiting each other.
It is almost certain that both male and female nurses, doctors, and other staff, will come into your bed area.
If you need help to use the toilet, or take a bath (eg you need a hoist or special bath), then you may be taken to a “unisex” bathroom used by both men and women. However, a member of staff will be with you, and other patients will not be in the bathroom at the same time.
The NHS will not turn patients away just because a “right-sex” bed is not immediately available.
What are our plans for the future?
We have a clear plan to ensure that our patients are cared for in an appropriate environment that meets their needs.
Our matrons monitor this on a daily basis and we will respond quickly to any concerns that are expressed by patients, visitors or staff.
Our major building programme has ensured that the Freeman Hospital and Royal Victoria Infirmary provide the most modern environment and facilities for patients. This includes a high number of single en-suite cubicles and four-bed bays, to ensure we can provide same-sex accommodation wherever possible.
How will we measure our success?
While in hospital, we may ask our patients to complete a short survey which asks for their thoughts on our accommodation, toilet and washing facilities.
We have developed ‘real-time’ electronic surveys which patients can complete.
The surveys are held on kiosks (as in the photo) at locations across our hospitals which give patients the chance to have their say on the service they have received.
What to do if you think you’re in mixed-sex accommodation
We want to know about your experiences. If you have any comments or concerns about your accommodation in hospital, please contact:
Patient Relations Department
Telephone: 0191 223 1382
North of Tyne Patient Advisory and Liaison Service (PALS)
Freephone: 0800 032 0202
We have changing places facilities at both the Freeman and Royal Victoria Infirmary. Located on level 3 at RVI and near the main entrance of the Freeman Hospital, Changing Places is a facility for anyone with a complex health issue who cannot use a standard disabled toilet as they require extra equipment and space. The room features a height adjustable adult changing bed, an electronic ceiling hoist, height adjustable sink, peninsular toilet, shower, non-slip floor and privacy screen.
You can find out more about the facilities and how to access them here.