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Hospital Wards: Children

Health written question – answered on 24th January 2011.

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Photo of Zac Goldsmith Zac Goldsmith Conservative, Richmond Park

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he plans to exempt paediatric wards from his proposals to eliminate mixed-sex wards in NHS hospitals.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns The Minister of State, Department of Health

There are no exemptions to delivering high standards of privacy and dignity. The national health service is expected to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation, except where it is "in the overall best interests of the patient, or reflects patient choice". However, same sex requirements allow sufficient flexibility to provide scope for specialist facilities for children and young people, where patients may choose to share facilities on the basis of age and diagnosis, rather than gender. In this context, the choice has to be a genuine one-not influenced by background factors such as staff convenience, the poor state of buildings or lack of facilities. If the child would prefer to be nursed in proximity to members of the same sex, then this preference should where possible be accommodated.

The Department has made available guidance(1,)(2) which specifically focuses on children. This makes clear that decisions about where children and young people receive their care should be based on the clinical, psychological and social needs of the individual child or young person. It states that this approach be conveyed to the child, (where they are old enough to understand), and to their parents/carers. In emphasising that young people be offered choice, there remains an emphasis that the location and environment are; safe, healthy, child-friendly and suitable to their age/stage of development.

This guidance was developed following extensive consultation with clinical staff and patient representative groups.

(1) A copy has been placed in the Library and is available at:

www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Lettersandcirculars/Professionalletters/Chiefnursingofficerletters/DH_098894

(2) A copy has been placed in the Library and is available at:

www.institute.nhs.uk/images//documents/DSSA/Updates_August_2010/20102503%20dh_TT%20Children_YP.pdf

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