Monday, 16 August 2010

Isn't This a Disgrace?

The NHS in England still has mixed wards in their hospitals. It's reported 64,000 of those who sadly require hospitalisation, are in mixed wards.

Labour said they would do away with them in 1997 and again in 2001. Today it's reported that labour say it's 'only' 95% of our ill who aren't afforded the dignity of being caged with those of the other sex.

Shame on them. When I was a child men and women were segregated because of their gender differences. Men and women have different needs in personal care, yet over the past few decades they have been disregarded. I won't go into the reasons why the sexes should be divided when receiving professional heathcare because they're all too obvious.

Approximately a century ago it was acknowledged that infection was spread by lack of hygiene. The message got through with Florence Nightingale's generation but in recent times the attitude is very much 'why should I bother because doctors have a duty to cure me'. Such innocence. I'm not saying men are less hygienic than women, (I daren't!), but where toilet needs are concerned many men leave a lot to be desired when there is no urinal. Most think (perhaps urinals are fairly wide) that their aim is perfect, yet I can assure them their aim leaves a lot to be desired - not least the washing of the toilet floor on a daily basis. I've yet to meet a man who can pee straight into a toilet bowl.

In mixed sex wards in English hospitals there are only toilet bowls and not urinals. Need I say more?

It's a disgrace that our neighbours have been subjected to the indignity of sharing a medical ward with the other sex. Many will have no complaint of sharing much of their lives with them, but, when we're hospitalised and at our most vulnerable, both sexes ought to be afforded privacy and dignity.

To think that the English health service continues to be stuck in Victorian times scares me. We're not much better here in Scotland but we have done away with them some years ago.

On the news tonight I heard that it was difficult for certain 'older' buildings to change to one sex only wards. Don't they realise that's what these hospitals had before the 'management' took over? The old matrons would have been mortified at the very thought of men and women sharing toilet/bathing facilities.

It's all very well for the coalition to say they will get rid of mixed wards (albeit A& E and other areas will not be affected), but what they should be saying is that each and every one of us ought to have our own toilet/bathing facilities when it's necessary for us to be in our bug-ridden hospitals.

So many homes are built these days with toilet facilities for each bedroom yet our hospitals, where our nearest and dearest are depending on the total care of others, do not. Isn't it time we aimed higher and provided personal facilities for every patient? Just like many European countries have been doing for years.


Macheath said...

I still shudder at the memory of some spokeswoman claiming on R4 in the 90s that 'not everyone objects to mixed-sex wards; in fact some of the ladies like having men around. I've spoken to older women who enjoy smartening themselves up because of the company'. I can't remember who or exactly when - just that it reduced me to shouting incoherently at the radio.

Your graphic illustration of the need for separate facilities raises another question I think I've aired here before - a relative of mine (on a gynaecology ward) found visitors of both genders lavishly using the ward's toilet and bathroom facilities to the full, even bringing children in for post-football showers. Not surprisingly, post-op infections were rife.

subrosa said...

Did some political or NHS (same difference on many occasions) say that Macheath?

I would have pulled the plug out of the wall but I believe it happened. It happens when they think the sheep are asleep.

Previously I think I've stated on my unfortunately admissions to my local hospital, many visitors used the patients toilets. Without a qualm either.

Yet the nursing staff turned a blind eye so I understand your comment.

Witterings From Witney said...

Nice post SR on a very 'delicate' subject!

Only one comment: As a 'gentleman' I was taught to (a) clean up after myself, which meant wiping the rim of the bowl etc, (just in case); (b) lower the seat; and (c) lower the lid!

End of comment!

Off topic - notice the word verification is 'galis' - doesn't someone like that play for one of the London teams? Apols - thought a poor attempt at humour was required!

John R said...

I've already heard the first overpaid and underworked NHS manager reported as saying how hard it will be to move to single sex wards; how they'll need more "resources"; how they will need more time etc etc.

How hard can it be as patients are booked in to allocate men to one ward/floor and women to another? Does it really even need a manager to do this?
How can there be any costs involved at all?

The NHS needs dragging into the real world - preferably by privatising the whole damn thing and moving to insurance based medical coverage for the whole population. Nothing nationalised ever works.

Dramfineday said...

Ah ha, the Mystery of the wet toilet seat by I P Squint...that takes me back... primary 7 I should think.

Anyway as per WoW above, I too was subjected to that "thoughtful" toilet training. I soon discovered that not everyone was when I went to school. Which is probably why I've such a bee in my bonnet about a measure of civilisation being clean public toilets! I seem to recall Murial Gray being moved to tears and rage by the state of hospital toilets when she went to visit her mum. No light, soiled seat and full bowl, no-one to take responsibility....yes she was incandecent. And as for shared wards,that's a result of measuring the wrong stuff, we were seen as not people, not even patients just sausages to be processed through the NHS machine and another box ticked!. I bet the swine that thought that one up got a bloody good wedge, when in reality he / she should have had his/her head stuck down the chocked bowl. Goodnight.

subrosa said...

WFW, now I am a woman of a certain maturity I can assure you that the learning of many mature males fall well below these standards.

I'm informed it's because males grow short-sighted far quicker than females once they're fast 50. Do I believe that? Only if they don't wear glasses. :)

subrosa said...

Have never heard of that book Dram. Must search for it. :)

Weren't we the first to realise that toilets and hand washing was the answer to infection and disease yet we continue to ignore these basics.


Anonymous said...

I think it goes without saying that people should be treated in single sex wards. If I’m not wrong it was Mrs Thatcher who did away with them.... As you say Subrosa, they were not tolerated before that. I imagine that it would have been unthinkable in the 50s and 60s for a man and woman who were not married to see each other’s night attire, never mind their bare butts!!

I suspect that, on the basis that she would NEVER have the indignity of having to defecate in a chamber pot with a man in the next bed only 3 ft and a translucent curtain away from her, she simply didn’t give a stuff about ordinary people having to do it.

Actually it is revolting regardless of the sex of the patient.

The other thing is that with visiting hours in hospitals being as long as 5 hours a day, there is much that can be seen and enjoyed (or not) by all the many and sundry visitors in the ward. I remember having a massive drain inserted in my chest in a ward full of people, and trying desperately not to scream out in agony and distress them.

The answer seems to me to be small rooms with 2 or 4 beds in them and toilets included. But it’s an expensive business just for ordinary people.

In fairness I think that the English heath boards say that this only happens on rare occasions and usually in accident and emergency situations or in high dependency units or ICUs. I have to say that I’d rather share a ward with “a female of the opposite sex” than sit in the corridor on a trolley, if I were seriously ill.

subrosa said...

Super comment Tris. I agree with most of it but I do think, in this day and age, our hospitals should have single ensuite rooms for every patient. Hospitals in Germany and Switzerland had that back in the late 70s except for day patients who still had sex segregated wards.

Is it any wonder we have the highest rate of infection in Europe?

Anonymous said...

Yes SR. I agree. Ideally we should have individual rooms as you suggest. I think many other Western European countries have them now, and they are the only way to give patients dignity in some of their most embarrassing moments.

I doubt if we can afford hospitals while we insist on trying hold on to the outdated notion that we should be helping America run the world. The countries that can afford to give their citizenry that kind of luxury are countries that by and large keep their nose very firmly out of other people’s business, about which they know nothing! Oooops, sorry for the rant.

And nope. I don’t wonder at the rate of infection we have. Not for a minute. I’ve watched hospital staff trying to cope with 3rd world conditions, and a total lack of discipline, and thought ....god get me out of here before you kill me....

Only ever been in a UK hospital once and never want to go back. Never.

Mrs Rigby said...

We seem to have written about the same subject, with similar feelings.

Wards of two, or maybe four, people should be the maximum and there should be adequate, well-maintained, toilet and washing facilities.

Visiting a friend in a near-to-us hospital for women we learned that it didn't have a bidet and, at the time, there was only one working toilet and one working shower on a whole floor. A bathroom was being used for storage.

subrosa said...

Two should be maximum Mrs R for control purposes. Here the large teaching hospital and the smaller one in the county town are reasonably new, perhaps around 25 years old max. There are a few single room (mainly given over the private patients) and the rest are bays of 6 or 8.

There are no bidets at all and the shower rooms/toilets can hardly take a wheelchair. When I was there a few years ago a commode sat in the shower area the whole time. Patients had to move it out to shower. It was mainly used as a resting place for urine samples which could sit there all day.

Mind you, the hospital near you sounds much worse.

subrosa said...

I know your experience was hellish Tris and it's such a shame you seemed to meet the worst the NHS has to offer.

Often I wonder if the NHS has a target for deaths. Sounds rather silly that I suppose, but when you think if money was invested in single ensuite rooms for everyone and therefore serious infections would then be really minimalised, why hasn't it been done. Such action would save lives and eventually money in the long term.

RantinRab said...

I wish someone had the 'political balls' to take the NHS by the scruff of the neck and fix it once and for all.

As you know, the Rablet has been in and out of Yorkhill a few times and although the clinical care was excellent, everything else left much to be desired though to be fair the hospital is due to be replaced in five or six years.

Hamish said...

I'm going to pop my head above the parapet and disagree.
My sole experience of hospital to date was in the old Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (Ward 18) fifteen years ago.
It was a large mixed-sex ward.
If I had ever thought about that possibility in advance it would have filled me with dread.
The reality, when it came, was that we were all very ill and had more important concerns.
In addition the staff always maintained privacy, with screens etc.
In fact, I found there was a strong cameraderie in the ward, which was of considerable support in the dark times.

Also, I don't think you can dismiss the efficiency arguments for this arrangement -- faster ward rounds, easier supervision, simpler distribution of drugs and meals, etc.
And it appals me to think that a seriously ill patient might be denied a bed because they were the wrong sex.

subrosa said...

You're perfectly entitled to disagree Hamish and I can understand why considering your experience.

Can I tell you that the few times I've been hospitalised there was also a strong camaraderie in the ward and it was all female. Must be something to do with being institutionalised.

I don't see how mixed sex wards make for greater efficiency though unless there is only one of them.

subrosa said...

Yorkhill has always had a wonderful reputation Rab but, like you, I can understand it being 'run down' because it's due to be replaced, although I'm sure the staff will continue to give top quality care to children.

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