Introduction The 2007 Chief Nursing Officer’s report on privacy and dignity identified provision of single-sex accommodation (SSA) as a key objective for the NHS. This was formalised in the 2010 Department of Health (DOH) policy to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation and financial sanctions for policy breaches were introduced in 2011. Our endoscopy department adopted the policy in 2011. However the unit, which opened in 2004, has only one recovery bay, necessitating separate gender lists. Urgent procedures for patients of the opposite sex to the list running are accommodated by admission/recovery in a separate endoscopy room. We explored the views of patients on their experience of attending our unit since implementation of the SSA policy. There are no published studies of patients’ perspectives of care in endoscopy units since the widespread adoption of the policy in 2011.
Methods Patients attending the endoscopy unit between August and October 2012 were invited to take part in the study by nursing staff during the admission process. Patient views were assessed using a structured non-disguised questionnaire of ten closed-ended questions. The Student’s t-test was used and a p value of < 0.05 was taken to be significant.
Results Of the 68 questionnaires returned (female 20, male 25, unknown 23) 14 (20.6% [80% female]) and 17 (25% [81.8% female]) reported that they would feel vulnerable changing behind a curtain or waiting in a gown in a mixed-sex area respectively. Patients ranked (scale 1–10, 1 = least, 10 = most) the importance of provision of SSA significantly lower than the importance of access to prompt investigation and treatment (mean: 4.8 [SD ± 3.74] vs 8.71 [SD ± 2.70], p = 2.6 x10–7). Male patients ranked the importance of SSA significantly lower than females (mean:1.5 [SD ±1.05] vs 6.5 [SD ±3.30], p = 6.3 x10–6). 17/68 patients (25%) were admitted to an area other than the main receiving/recovery area because they were a different sex to the list running, and of these, 7/17 (41.2%) felt their care was compromised or patient experience reduced as a result.
Conclusion SSA delivery is important to our patients, especially women. However they rank prompt investigation and treatment as more important. The rapid introduction of SSA in our hospital, in the absence of the necessary infrastructure, conflicts in part, with the pressure to deliver timely investigations. This can lead to compromised care, notably in patients who are admitted/recovered in an alternative room and can also lead to delays for specialised endoscopy (polypectomy, ERCP and EUS). By making such compromises we are at risk of achieving no net gain in patient satisfaction and experience.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared.
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