Herald Opinion: Mixed wards should be a thing of the past

More scorn was poured on Eastbourne’s DGH this week with the release of figures condemning hospitals for breaching rules on mixed sex wards.

Between the DGH and the Conquest in Hastings, there were 169 instances in the last month alone of people being placed on the same wards as opposite sex patients - 153 of them in Eastbourne.

That amounts to a shameful catalogue and shows how Eastbourne is behind even its near neighbour and trust partner in meeting this most basic of requirements.

The hospital trust argued, rather feebly, that the figures had been skewed by a “busy few days” when there was a sudden surge of severely ill patients.

We should have some sympathy. Damned if it falls behind target on operations, the trust was damned instead for admitting patients in less than ideal circumstances. It meant men and women changing into theatre gowns behind closed curtains.

But the fact remains that we are a few weeks from the year 2012 and mixed wards should be a thing of the past. Basic dignities are being denied to patients and the DGH’s breaches of the rule account for more than 12 per cent of the entire country.

And so the vicious circle continues. The hospital is fined £250 for every breach whilst the trust strugggles with its huge debts. And with the real winter surely still ahead, who would bet against more of those “skewed”days?

Don’t let anyone say this illustrates the need for shared facilities between Hastings and Eastbourne. That simply won’t wash.

And we should spare a thought for the majority of hard-working DGH staff who want better for all their patients.


ONE by one, they took their place on their own little page of fund-raising history.

One huddled across the dashboard, one in the footwell with her head tucke under too, some in the boot and others crammed head to toe in the front and back seats.

What began as a fun challenge had become a feat of physical endurance. And they did it! Twenty-seven plucky ladies from Eastbourne’s David Lloyd Club pulled off a world record by squeezing into a mini car.

Children In Need never ceases to amaze in how it brings out the best in Britain as people come up with ever more ingenious ways of prizing money out of our pockets.

And the David Lloyd mini challenge took some beating. With paramedics on stand-by, this gutsy group took personal endurance to a new level. For five seconds they were cocooned in the car with doors and windows locked tightly shut as supporters looked nervously on. Crazy these mini marvels may have been, but they still earned maximum respect from a very happy Pudsey and a very proud town.