WARRINGTON and Halton Hospitals Trust has broken NHS rules on mixed-sex accommodation more than a dozen times.

Since 2010, hospitals have been expected to ensure wards are single-sex, except in special circumstances - intensive care, for example.

The single-sex rule applies to wards with sleeping accommodation, which includes areas where patients are treated on beds or trollies, even if they don't stay overnight.

Runcorn and Widnes World: Warrington and Halton hospitals have breached NHS rules in the past 12 monthsWarrington and Halton hospitals have breached NHS rules in the past 12 months

According to figures from NHS England, between October 2021 and March 2022, there were 13 recorded incidents of Warrington and Halton hospitals within ICU breaching the rules on mixed-sex wards.

The last period of time that can be compared - due to the pandemic - is October 2019 to February 2020, where 26 breaches were recorded.

This means that overall breaches of this rule have been halved in two years.

Until April 2021, NHS trusts that breached these rules were to be fined £250 for every recorded incident - but that policy on penalties has since been dropped.

Nationally, between October and March, NHS England data shows that more than 16,000 breaches were recorded across the country, which is the highest number since 2010-11.

This means that across the country, for every 1,000 overnight hospital stays, there were nearly two breaches of the rule.

The figures for Warrington show that for every 1,000 stays there were 0.8 breaches - making Warrington significantly better than the national average.

Runcorn and Widnes World: The NHS rules on single-sex wards came into force in 2010The NHS rules on single-sex wards came into force in 2010

Rachel Power, chief executive of The Patients Association, said: "Mixed sex wards are an affront to patients’ dignity.

"No patient wants to receive intimate, personal care on a mixed sex ward, and it's the sort of stress that doesn't promote recovery."

The Patients Association did acknowledge the additional stresses on the NHS due to the pandemic, but said that services must be restored to pre-pandemic levels.

An NHS spokesperson said: "NHS staff work hard to maintain our patients' privacy, dignity and safety – and most trusts have eliminated breaches."