The Conservatives have been challenged over whether they will again include a manifesto commitment to eliminate mixed-sex wards in hospitals, as new figures reveal the number of patients forced onto mixed-sex wards has almost tripled in the last two years.
Figures published today have shown over 7,770 patients had to share rooms with the opposite sex in the year to March 2017, as the NHS faced a chronic shortage of beds. This is up from just 2,655 incidents two years ago, an increase of 192%.
This comes despite a 2015 Conservative manifesto pledge to eliminate mixed-sex wards altogether.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb commented:
"Far from being eliminated, the number of patients being forced to stay in single-sex accommodation has tripled since this Conservative government came to power.
"This is a major embarrassment for Jeremy Hunt and yet another sign of the impossible pressure our NHS is under.
"The progress we made in reducing mixed sex wards during the coalition government is now completely unravelling.
"Men and women should never be forced to share hospital wards in a modern health service. It is an affront to basic human dignity.
"The Conservatives should clarify to the public whether they will again include this failed commitment in their manifesto and how they expect to meet it.
"This election is a chance to change the direction of our country and end this Conservative government's disgraceful underfunding of the NHS."
Notes to Editors
The latest figures on mixed-sex wards can be found here. They show that 776 patients stayed in mixed-sex wards in March 2017, up from 710 the previous month.
In total 7,771 patients stayed in mixed-sex wards between April 2016 and March 2017. This compares to 5,309 in 2015-2016 and 2,655 in 2014-2015.
The Conservative 2015 manifesto stated "we will continue to eliminate mixed-sex wards." (link, p.38)