Privacy and dignity

City Hospitals Sunderland takes the issue of privacy and dignity of patients very seriously and continues to take all steps possible to achieve and sustain the highest levels in this regard.

We continue to take every opportunity to improve our built environment, both to afford the highest possible space standards as well as to allow all clinical procedures to be carried out with due regards to the patient’s privacy and dignity.

We are proud to confirm that mixed sex accommodation has been virtually eliminated in all our hospitals.

Declaration of compliance

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is pleased to confirm that we are compliant with the Government’s requirement to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation, except when it is in the patient’s overall best interest, 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 when clinically necessary (for example where patients need specialist equipment such as in the Chest Pain Assessment Unit and the Phoenix Unit) or when patients actively choose to share (for instance the Renal Dialysis Unit).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 as part of our Annual Report and to Council of Governor meetings in public.

What does this mean for patients?

Other than in the circumstances set out above, patients admitted to City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust can expect to find the following:

Same sex-accommodation means:

  • The room where your bed is will only have patients of the same sex as you
  • Your toilet and bathroom will be just for your gender, and will be close to your bed area

It is possible that there will be both men and women patients on the ward, but they will not share your sleeping area. You may have to cross a ward corridor to reach your bathroom, but you will not have to walk through opposite-sex areas.

You may share some communal space, such as day rooms or dining rooms, and it is very likely that you will see both men and women patients as you move around the hospital (eg on your way to X-ray or the operating theatre).

It is probable that visitors of the opposite gender will come into the room where your bed is, and this may include patients visiting each other.

It is almost certain that both male and female nurses, doctors and other staff will come into your bed area.

If you need help to use the toilet or take a bath (eg you need a hoist or special bath) then you may be taken to a “unisex” bathroom used by both men and women, but a member of staff will be with you, and other patients will not be in the bathroom at the same time.

The NHS will not turn patients away just because a “right-sex” bed is not immediately available.

More information

What are our plans for the future?

  • In order to deliver our commitment to virtually eliminate Mixed Sex Accommodation the Trust aims to deliver the following Good Practice Principles.

The Board of Directors actively supports patients’ privacy and dignity

There is clear evidence of commitment by the Board of Directors to improve privacy and dignity arrangements.

  • The Board of Directors understands what patients want and endeavors to deliver it.
  • The Board understands the Trust’s performance against privacy and dignity benchmarks and sets local goals for improvement.
  • Resources are allocated to preserving and improving the privacy and dignity of all patients and service users.

The physical environment actively supports patients’ privacy and dignity

  • The care environment is clean and well maintained
  • There is good physical separation of sleeping accommodation for men and women
  • The physical environment is appropriate for the care group
  • There are segregated toilet and washing facilities for men and women

Individual staff actions actively support privacy and dignity

  • Staff are aware of, and abide by, policies established to ensure privacy and dignity
  • Staff apologise for all episodes of mixing and keep patients and visitors informed about actions that are being taken to solve the problem
  • Staff report episodes of mixing through the appropriate reporting channels

New Wards and ICCU at Sunderland Royal Hospital

The new £33m development at Sunderland Royal Hospital, the largest in the Trust’s history, comprises a new ICCU (Integrated Critical Care Unit) and three 40-bed medical and surgical wards.

Privacy and dignity issues were high on the agenda when the new designs were developed. Each of the new wards will have 12 en-suite side rooms and bays of four beds with en-suite facilities.

The ICCU has 18 single bedrooms which eliminates any possibility of mixed sex accommodation.

The development provides more bed space for patients as well as creating slack in the system which will help to avoid mixing of sexes. The development will also allow the Trust to reconfigure the existing wards to create more single sex wards.

How will we measure success?

City Hospitals Sunderland will be collecting data via the real time patient feedback system. The data collection will include the mandatory questions from the Delivering Same Sex Accommodation Survey and will be collected on a continuous basis. Council of Governors members, Community Panel members and Trust Volunteers will all be involved in the collection of data.

Feedback mechanisms to the Board and to individual ward areas are in place to record how we are complying with our commitment to virtual elimination of Mixed Sex Accommodation.

What do I do if I think I am in mixed sex accommodation?

We want to know about your experiences. Please contact Robert Allport, Head of Estates and Lead on Single Sex Accommodation on 0191 5699057 or email

Sunderland Royal Hospital

Kayll Road, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR4 7TP

Tel: 0191 565 6256

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Sunderland Eye Infirmary

Queen Alexandra Road, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR2 9HP

Tel: 0191 565 6256

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