NHS trust fined for breaching rules on ward segregation

A LACK of accident and emergency bed space at the Conquest Hospital forcing men and women to share wards has resulted in an £11,000 fine.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust was fined by the Clinical Commissioning Group after reporting 44 breaches during August.

There were 35 breaches at the Conquest and nine at Eastbourne’s District General Hospital.

Hospital rules state different sexes must be segregated or they will be fined £250 for each day there is a breach.

The money will be reinvested in the NHS.

Hospitals are expected to provide separate sleeping, bathroom and toilet facilities for men and women. Wards do not need to be single sexed but patients have to be kept in bays divided by a partition. The Conquest is set to have more partitions erected on the wards over the next few months.

Earlier this year it was revealed The Trust had a funding deficit of £19.4 million.

Trust spokesman Simon Purkiss said: “The majority of the Trust’s breaches during August were caused by pressure on beds within the A&E department at Conquest Hospital.

“Building work to change the space available in the department will shortly be under way. By the start of winter we will have new space available to reduce any further breaches.”

Last week the Observer reported how the trust had already fallen £5 million behind in its funding shortfall plans since the start of the new financial year.

The Trust had planned to have a shortfall of £8.6 million by the autumn but the current figure is now £13.7m.

Margaret Williams, chairman of the Hands off the Conquest campaign, said: “The worry is they know they have the winter coming up and building works do have a problem of over running. I don’t think there is any sense in fining a trust that is in such financial difficulty.”