Each year the Trust is required to state its commitment to delivering same sex accommodation to our patients and to display this on the Trust website. Our commitment to this remains, and below is the unchanged declaration and information as stated on the Trust website.
The NHS is committed to making sure that all patients receive high-quality care that is safe, effective and focused on their needs. The NHS Constitution states that all patients have the right to privacy and to be treated with dignity and respect. We believe that providing same-sex accommodation is an effective way of helping to achieve this goal and of giving all patients the best possible experience while they are in hospital.
Why is same-sex accommodation so important?
It is clear from what patients tell us that being in mixed-sex accommodation can compromise their privacy and dignity at a time when they may already be feeling vulnerable. The most common concerns include physical exposure, being in an embarrassing or threatening situation, noise, and the possibility of other patients overhearing conversations about their condition.
Women, and elderly women in particular, are most likely to worry about being in mixed-sex accommodation, although male patients also say that they feel reluctant to talk openly and find it embarrassing to be in a mixed-sex setting. Some patients are also strongly opposed to mixed-sex accommodation for cultural or religious reasons.
What do we mean by mixed-sex and same-sex accommodation?
Mixed-sex accommodation is where men and women have to share sleeping areas or toilet and washing facilities. Same-sex accommodation is where specific sleeping areas and toilet and washing facilities are designated as either men-only or women-only.
Same-sex accommodation can be provided in:
- same-sex wards, where the whole ward is occupied by men or women only
- single rooms
- mixed wards, where men and women are in separate bays or rooms.
Toilet and washing facilities should be easily accessible and, ideally, either inside or next to the ward, bay or room. Patients should not need to go through sleeping areas or toilet and washing facilities used by the opposite sex to access their own.
Self-Declaration Statement Regarding Same Sex Accommodation
Delivering Single Sex Accommodation – Declaration of Compliance
'The Trust Board of Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust confirms that it is working towards eliminating mixed sex accommodation at Darent Valley Hospital, unless in the overall best interest of the patient, or reflects their personal choice.
We have the necessary 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 same sex toilets and bathrooms will be close to their bed area. Sharing with members of the opposite sex will only happen where clinically necessary (for example where patients need specialist equipment such as in the cardiac ward or are admitted in an emergency to the clinical decisions unit), or where patients actively choose to share.
If our care should fall short of the required standard, we will report it. We will also set up an audit mechanism to make sure that we do not misclassify any of our reports. We will publish the results of that audit on the Trust website.
There are also several single rooms on every ward. These are normally prioritised for patients who are infectious, or are prone to infection. In addition they are used for patients who are very sick indeed or who have a greater need of privacy or may be at the end of their life.
Patients may share some communal spaces on the ward (eg dayrooms, dining areas).
On occasions however clinical need and urgency will mean that patients need to share accommodation with patients of the opposite gender. Where patients require specialist treatment they may be in an area where it is mixed eg ITU, coronary care, stroke unit etc.
Where this occurs, it will be closely monitored, patient views will be sought and a plan made to improve the situation as soon as possible. The NHS will not turn patients away in an emergency just because a ‘right sex’ bed is not immediately available.
It is accepted that for babies and small children, segregation by age and development stage can be more important than single sex accommodation. In addition, parents of either sex are welcome to stay on the ward with their child. Once early teenage years are reached privacy becomes more important and staff on the children’s ward will endeavour to provide suitable single sex accommodation for children in this older age group.
Male and female staff care for all patients. Where a patient requests it, or special circumstances apply, matrons will attempt to provide ‘same sex’ staff though this may not always be possible.