Herald Opinion: DGH paying high price for denying patients’ dignity

It will come as a shock to many people that men and women are still occupying mixed wards in parts of Eastbourne’s hospital.

What will surprise even more is that the DGH is paying a £250 per-patient, per-day penalty for breaking new rules stipulating that there should be separate bays to divide the sexes. Since that requirement came into force last April, fines for breaches have totalled more than £23,000.

Men and women can share the same wards as long as they are in bays divided by partitions, and as long as they have separate sleeping, bathroom and toilet facilities.

At the DGH this isn’t always happening and the hospital is paying a high price for denying patients their dignity. The Care Quality Commission has already voiced its anger.

Thankfully, the money paid in fines is not being treated as a further drain on the finances of a health trust that is already struggling to clear a £6 million debt amassed during the past year.

The sensible trade off is that the hospital will get to keep its money to reinvest it in improving patient care.

Surely every penny spent should go into eradicating mixed wards once and for all. Hospital bosses must be as ashamed as their patients with the position in which they find themselves.

However tight the purse strings, people in some of the most vulnerable moments of their lives should not be subjected to such a loss of dignity.

The penalty price per patient is an acute embarrassment to a modern-day health service.

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THE VERY phrase “legal high” suggests something untoward.

And it was one such experience that cost unsuspecting Eastbourne teenager Rikki Green his life. Having smoked a substance called salvia, the 17-year-old lost control of his senses and plunged to his death from a flat.

Coroner Alan Craze warned of the considerable dangers of taking such drugs, adding that salvia was a substance prohibited in a number of countries and large parts of the United States.

So why isn’t it here? Banning a drug such as this will not stop people experimenting or using it. But why flatter it with the label of a “legal high” when it is clearly as dangerous as many outlawed drugs?