The number of patients being treated on mixed sex wards at Burton's Queen's Hospital has almost doubled in the past year - sparking claims they have suffered an 'affront to basic human dignity.'

A Freedom of Information request found that the hospital cared for 53 patients on mixed wards between August 2015 to July 2016, a stark contrast to the 98 breaches of the NHS guidelines on male and female patient care in the same time-frame this year.

Despite the big jump, hospital bosses say that the patients' "dignity and privacy" is maintained at all times.

For the financial year of 2016 and 2017, all breaches were found to have occurred within the Critical Care Unit and were all due to a delay of greater than four hours from when the patient was ready for discharge to the ward and the time the patient was actually discharged from Critical Care.

The delays were all due to capacity issues within the Trust, and staff said all patients and relatives affected had been kept informed of the need for them to be nursed in a mixed sex environment, it was revealed.

Paula Gardner, chief nurse, said: "The majority of the breaches recorded by the Trust occur on the critical care unit. Once a patient is deemed to no longer require level two high dependency care, the Trust’s policy is to allocate the patient with a space on a ward within four hours.

"On occasions when demand for bed space is high within the Trust, it is safer to keep a patient on the critical care unit for longer than the four hours stipulated in the Trust policy, while a space on an appropriate ward is sought.

"By keeping a patient on the critical care unit for longer than the Trust policy of four hours after their level of care reduced from level two high dependency care, this is where the Trust records a breach.

"The Trust puts the safety of its patients above everything else and is completely open and transparent about the reporting of these types of occurrences."

The news comes after it was revealed that more than 9,000 patients were treated on mixed-sex NHS wards in the 12 months to the end of July.

NHS England data, analysed by the Liberal Democrats, showed that the number of patients suffering the "indignity" of being treated in mixed-sex wards rose to 908 in July.

Overall, 9,004 patients were treated on mixed-sex wards between August 2016 and July 2017, which is close to a 55 per cent increase on the previous year.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: "Men and women shouldn't have to share hospital wards, it's an affront to basic human dignity. It is time to end the continued underfunding of the NHS and care that is putting intolerable pressure on services and leading to these sorts of failures.

"The Conservatives once pledged to end mixed-sex wards, now it seems they have given up. The Government must recommit to closing mixed-sex wards instead of turning a blind eye."

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