Mixed-Sex Wards to be Eliminated

Massive investment to improve local hospitals

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Charing Cross Hospital

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Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, the organisation which runs five London hospitals including Charing Cross and Hammersmith, has announced it is launching a £9million programme of works to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation on inpatient wards.

The programme's refurbishment plans, which are due to be completed by March next year, include new single-sex bays as well as new bathrooms and toilets.

Professor Janice Sigsworth, the Trust's Director of Nursing, said: " Maintaining patients' privacy and dignity in hospital is an important priority for the Trust and we hope that the changes we are making to the wards will have a big impact on how patients feel about their time with us."

The Trust says this work is part of a wider scheme to improve patients’ experience of being in hospital, which will include "mystery shoppers" being introduced to sample the type of service they receive in hospital.

Electronic patient trackers have also been installed around the hospital where patients can respond to five questions about their care while they are still in hospital to give staff real time responses.

Janice said: " We want to make sure our patients have the best possible experience from their admission to hospital through to their discharge and feel involved in decisions about their care."

News of this new investment comes amidst a row with Hammersmith and Fulham council leader, Steven Greenhalgh, who has angrily criticised plans which he says threaten the future of Charing Cross Hospital, and amount to "closure by stealth".

The changes, proposed by Healthcare for London, will see new trauma units and stroke centres set up in a number of London hospitals. However, Charing Cross has been rejected as a site for one of the four trauma centres in favour of St Mary's Paddington, and it seems likely that it would eventually also lose the stroke centre to St Mary's.

"These plans will lead to the downgrading of Charing Cross Hospital from a regional specialist hospital to a community hospital that provides only local services," said Stephen. "This amounts to closure by stealth and is clearly not in the interests of anyone living in west London.

"Neurosciences and neurosurgery, which are essential to both trauma and stroke services, are world class at Charing Cross. St Mary's has no neurosurgery department and requires major investment to set one up. "

This idea is not cost-effective, especially at this challenging time for public finances."

A spokeswoman for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs both Charing Cross and St Mary's, responded by saying the new services are part of a Londonwide programme that aims to save 500 lives a year.

She said: "We are committed to providing the highest quality neuro and stroke services to local residents.

"We have submitted plans for the development of two completely new services. From whichever site these new services are provided in future, the trust will continue to provide neurology and stroke services at Charing Cross.

"The stroke services will include post 72-hour stroke care, rehabilitation and outpatient services. We recognise the benefits of co-locating these specialist services, which would mean major trauma, hyper acute stroke services and specialist brain surgery are housed on a single site."

May 27, 2009