Sexual harassment on mixed sex wards in psychiatric hospitals
continues to be a major problem, according to a survey by mental
health charity Mind.
More than half of the 95 local groups surveyed were concerned
about the discomfort and intimidation experienced by women, and
some men, on mixed sex wards.
Nearly one in five reported serious abuse or assault and three
reported rape. Only a fifth said that single sex day areas were
available, and more than a third reported mixed sex washing and
Mind’s chief executive Richard Brook said that the
government’s guidelines do not go far enough towards ensuring
the safety and dignity of men and women.
“We would like to see the government test the quality of its own
reforms by carrying out an urgent audit of the opinions of service
users,” he said.
The survey also raised concerns about staffing levels and
procedures, a lack of sensitivity to cultural and religious
requirements for separation, and the domination of day areas by
The charity is calling for the current guidelines on separate
washing and toilet facilities to be implemented, access to women
only space during the day, access to toilets and washing facilities
without having to pass through mixed sex areas, and improved
practice within wards to protect patients.
A spokesperson from the department of health said she was
“confident” that targets would be met to eliminate mixed sex wards
in 95 per cent of trusts this year.