Page last updated at 00:06 GMT, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 01:06 UK

'It is about dignity and respect'

Hospitals are failing to ensure people are kept in single-sex accommodation despite the efforts of government, figures obtained by the Tories show. But what does this mean to patients?

Winifred Wright
Winifred Wright was kept on a mixed-sex ward for five days

"It is simple, my mother deserved more," says Marie Wright.

The retired physiotherapist from the Shropshire town of Market Drayton was left horrified when her 97-year-old mother, Winifred Wright, was treated on a mixed-sex ward at Telford Hospital last year.

She was admitted in August and spent five days on the orthopaedic ward alongside men and women after being admitted with back pain following a fall.

"My mother was in too much pain to really care, but I tried to get her moved. I knew she wouldn't have like it.

"It was an invasion of her privacy at what was a very vulnerable time for her.

"But the hospital was not much help. I think they were just too full and did not have anywhere else to treat her.

"The problem is that people, especially the elderly, do not complain enough. We shouldn't have to stand for this after all the money that has been invested in the NHS.

"It is a question of dignity and respect. I talked to an elderly man who was on the ward with my mother and he was so upset he was prepared to pay to go private."


Ms Wright's mother, who had been living on her own until the fall, ended up being moved to a community hospital and then into a nursing home before dying two months later.

"I just had to get her out of there. I was not comfortable about it at all."

And, what is more, Ms Wright believes the problem is only going to get worse.

Marie Wright
We have an ageing population and if they do not get this right we will see it happening more and more
Marie Wright

"This has to be resolved. We have an ageing population and if they do not get this right we will see it happening more and more."

In a statement, the Telford Hospital said it could not comment on individual cases.

But a spokesman added: "We always try to admit patients to a single-sex bay, and we do our best to respect patient privacy and dignity as much as possible.

"However, when we have a high number of unavoidable admissions sometimes it is necessary to admit patients to a bay with patients of the opposite sex, but we endeavour to ensure patient dignity and privacy at all times."

Mixed-sex NHS 'still a problem'
19 May 08 |  Health
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29 Jun 07 |  Health

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