THE number of hospitals treating patients in mixed-sex environments continues to drop, with the lowest ever figures recorded in June.
Newly-released statistics from the Department of Health (DH) show that last month there was a total of 1,933 breaches at inpatient units in England, compared to 2,011 in May.
As in the previous month, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust was the worst performer, with 292 breaches and a breach rate of 37.6 against the countrywide average of 1.3. Second was Barts and the London NHS Trust, with 237 breaches and a breach rate of 24.5. However, these figures are lower than in May, when the Maidstone trust recorded 274 breaches and Barts 269.
West Kent and Tower Hamlets PCTs recorded the most breaches - 226 and 156 respectively - while the worst-performing SHAs were London, with a total of 505 breaches, and NHS South East Coast, with 482.
The DH has been releasing figures for the past seven months, with mandatory fines coming into force in April, which mean that for every patient treated in a ward with members of the opposite sex, the trust must pay £250. During June, this equates to fines totalling £483,250.
In total, 104 trusts reported no breaches and 38 recorded a reduction on the previous month.
Commenting on the statistics, Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said: "There is no excuse for patients having to suffer the indignity of staying in mixed-sex accommodation in a modern NHS. Thanks to our tough action, breaches have fallen by 84% in the space of six months.
"The NHS has done a fantastic job getting to grips with this, but more needs to be done. This is why hospitals face fines of £250 for every breach, which can then be re-invested back into patient care."