Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Q & A: Single sex areas - hospital dialysis

Q: Dear Dr O'Donoghue, we are currently being advised by our Trust management team that we will soon be required to adhere to the single sex areas rule, which has been decreed by the Department of Health. As you can imagine, this was met with horror; finding dialysis slots for all patients can be hard enough, without having to think of that too. Hospital transport would also be an issue, as patients may be grouped on dialysis shifts for geographical area not gender!

We think that our patients would not feel the need or like this as the social aspect of mixing with others, especially for younger patients is important to them. We understand that the idea in principle may be better for sick, underdressed inpatinets and would welcome your thoughts on its application to fairly well, fully clothed outpatients. Thank you. Kind regards, Nicky Moncrieff (Renal Nurse Specialist, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge).

A: Dear Nicky, thank you for your question, it is something that is being raised by several renal units. The existing guidance on the Department of Health website actually uses dialysis as an example where common sense needs to prevail. To quote directly "Staff in these areas will need to make decisions on a day-to-day basis. For instance, in a renal dialysis unit, if all patients are well-established on treatment, wear their own clothes and have formed personal friendships, mixing may be a good thing. By contrast, a new dialysis patient, with a femoral catheter, and wearing a hospital gown, should be able to expect a much higher degree of privacy." I do hope this is helpful. Kind regards Donal.