Patients and Visitors

Your Privacy, Our Responsibility

Same Sex Accommodation - Declaration of Compliance 2013/2014

South Tyneside 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 bath / shower rooms 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 care and equipment such as in our Critical Care Unit and our Accident and Emergency Resuscitation Room, or when patients actively choose to share (for instance our Oncology and Haematology Day Unit).

We do not anticipate any situation where our care would fall short of the required standard, however in the unlikely event of this occurring 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 on our website.

What does same sex accommodation mean for patients?

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

  • 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 share some communal space, such as the day room, and it is very likely that you will see both men and women patients as you move around the hospital (for example 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 to use the disabled toilet or use an assisted bath / shower, with specialist equipment in there 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.

Our Commitment

The Trust will work to continuously improve the environment of care for patients. We understand how important it is that healthcare professionals meet the privacy and dignity needs of all patient groups.

We will work closely with our governors and members to ensure that privacy and dignity remains a top priority. We will also work closely with service users through the Healthwatch, Disability Forum Groups and others to ensure that we listen to the people who use our services on a daily basis.

We will collect information on patients' experience of our services and we will put plans in place to make improvements based on the results.

We will work with service users to help us in the design of new facilities across the organisation.

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

In the first instance, please speak to the Ward Manager or nurse in charge who will try to resolve your concerns.

We want to know about your experiences.

Please contact our Customer Services Department on 0191 4041072 or 0191 4041073, or via email customer.services@stft.nhs.uk and they will be happy to help.

Delivering Same Sex accommodation Self - Assessment

The Trust is required to undertake a self-assessment regarding compliance, using the Department of Health template. The document can be found here.

Same sex accommodation: your privacy, our responsibility (Department of Health, 2009)

At South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust we have always placed high importance in ensuring the privacy & dignity of patients.

We continually strive to improve the patient experience when using any of our services and receive feedback through the National Inpatient Surveys conducted every year and by local surveys conducted within the Trust.

We have an annual programme of ward and department refurbishments, which includes providing toilet and shower facilities in a multi bedded bay, and create additional en suite single rooms wherever possible.

Further information about privacy & dignity is found below:

Privacy & dignity matters


We realise that coming into hospital can be a stressful and anxious time.

It is vital to us that you feel you are treated with dignity and respect at all times, and that we maintain your privacy.

We recognise that there are some treatments and investigations which can be particularly embarrassing for patients, and we do our utmost to minimize this.

Understanding what matters to you

There have been national and local surveys to find out what patients feel are important in maintaining privacy, dignity and respect, whilst in hospital.

Inpatient facilities matter

In wards across the Trust we never have male and female patients being cared for in the same bay.

The only place where this may occur is in the Intensive Care/High Dependency Unit, until you are able to be cared for in a ward area. We will always inform you and your family prior to arrival to the unit that you may be cared for in a mixed sex bay, as priority is given to treating you in this specialist environment. We will do all we can in these circumstances to maintain your privacy & dignity by using screens and curtains and providing greater observation by nursing staff in the unit.

In the Emergency Assessment Unit and all adult wards each bay has a door which can be closed and curtains around beds and at corridor windows, to ensure privacy can be maintained for the patients in that bay.

The curtains have been designed to overlap, to prevent gaps when you are being cared for, and privacy curtains are available where you shower and bathe. You will not have to share toilet or washing facilities with members of the opposite sex

Call bells are available by every bed and in toilets, showers and bathrooms. Patients are advised that the purpose of the nurse call system is to inform staff that assistance is required. The Trust would like to reassure patients that they should feel able to lock toilet, bathroom and shower room doors, as these are all accessible from the outside by nursing staff.

We are committed to improving our facilities and have recently refurbished two wards and the Emergency Assessment Unit so that each bed bay has an easy access toilet and shower facility within the bay, and increased the number of en suite single rooms.

We have an ongoing programme to introduce these facilities in all adult wards. We do have a day room in each ward, as we recognise some patients like to chat to other patients whilst they are in hospital.

Day care/investigation facilities

We offer day care facilities across the trust, such as the endoscopy unit, day surgery unit, outpatients department, radiology and moorlands day hospital. Those patients requiring coronary angiography (speciaist heart investigations) are cared for in a same sex bay.

Endoscopy day unit

We recognise that patients recovering from a procedure, particularly following sedation will want to recover in an environment which maintains their privacy. The unit has separate bays for male & female patients, with bed and bay curtains and a door which can be closed to provide full privacy.

Day surgery / treatment unit

The unit cares for patients who are having day surgery operations, but also investigations and day treatment. We always ensure that male & female patients are cared for in single sex bays.

Outpatient departments

We have a number of outpatient departments, which have a range of clinics for a variety of specialties running at the same time.

The designated seating areas are for male and female patients, however all consultations will take place in a private clinic room.

If it is necessary to examine you as part of the consultation we will ensure your privacy is maintained by having a screened area for you to undress, with use of blankets or sheets to maintain your modesty.

A number of our consulting rooms also have a separate examination room, again to promote your privacy.

Children's Assessment Unit / Ward

We have a children's assessment unit and children's ward which cares for babies and children. It is usual that we care for children of similar ages rather than have a "boys area" and "girls area".

We have interview rooms, treatment and procedure rooms to ensure we maintain the child's privacy & dignity and all bed spaces have curtains to provide privacy.

Visiting times

We constantly review our visiting times in the Trust, and have recognized the need to ensure you have adequate rest and recuperation, with quiet times on the ward (please refer to our visiting leaflet).

We have also introduced protected mealtimes across all adult wards, to enable you to enjoy mealtimes without being interrupted by staff or visitors. If you require assistance with your meals and would prefer that a family member attend to this need, this can be arranged with the ward staff.

Treatment rooms are available on a number of wards which allow dressings and procedures to be done, away from your bed area.

There are quiet rooms also available in many wards, so if you wish to have a private discussion, please speak to the nurse in charge.

Confidentiality matters

Maintaining patient confidentiality is vital, and we will ask permission from you before sharing information with others, please remember that sharing information over the telephone with relatives may be difficult due to the need to maintain confidentiality.

We have individual name boards at the head of the bed and an overall patient name board near the nurses station. If you do not want your name displayed please inform the nursing staff.

A clean ward matters

We would like to reassure you that we place high importance in providing a clean and safe environment for patients, visitors and staff.

At the entrance of every ward & department we have information about how we maintain the cleanliness of the area. We ask you to help us by alerting staff if you find something in an area which does not meet the standard of cleanliness you would expect.

Being involved in your care matters

We will ask you how best we can involve you in making decisions about your care and explain things as we go along. If you don't understand anything please ask to speak to the nurse in charge. We will be respectful of any religious, cultural or special needs you may have, please let us know how we can help you with them.

Privacy & Dignity matters to staff


The trust has a policy on Privacy & Dignity, approved by the Chief Operating Officer for Clinical Services.

Privacy & Dignity Policy pdf

We have a Chaperoning Policy, to ensure staff are aware of their role in maintaining the privacy & dignity of patients, when examinations, procedures or treatments are required.

Chaperoning Policy pdf

Privacy & Dignity Champions

We have Privacy & Dignity Champions across inpatient and hospital services. Their role is to ensure the good practice introduced in the trust is implemented in the area and to feedback to the Unit / Ward Manager any concerns.

Matrons Ward Rounds

Our Matrons regularly undertake ward rounds, to observe what's going on and to find out from patients what they think about the care they are receiving. This includes asking about privacy & dignity issues.

The Experience of Patients

We undertake local survey across all services in the Trust on a frequent basis. This enables patients to think about the care they have received so that we can celebrate what we do well and act on feedback to improve the care we provide.

We also take part in a national survey every year, this is a much larger survey which includes questions on privacy & dignity issues. The results let us know if we've improved from the previous year and how we are doing against other trusts in England. If you receive a questionnaire at home we would really appreciate it if you can take the time to complete it and send it back in the prepaid envelope, as we will listen to your views.