A pledge made 10 years ago by Tony Blair returned to haunt him this week.

A pledge made 10 years ago by Tony Blair returned to haunt him this week.

Back in 1996, the prime minister promised to end the scandal of patients having to stay in mixed-sex wards in NHS hospitals.

According to Department of Health figures, 99 per cent of trusts comply with the requirement to provide single-sex accommodation. But as the media reported, this is not the experience of patients.

The Daily Telegraphquoted patients' complaints about flimsy partitions separating the sexes and wards being classed as emergency in order to 'get round the rules'.

Annie Harding told a harrowing tale of being admitted to Royal Hospital Cornwall as an emergency in the middle of the night, in her nighty. 'I was in a bed a few feet from a hefty tattooed man,' she said. But the experience did not count as part of the official figures because the ward was described as an 'assessment area'.

'There is a fiddle here by the way they define what is a ward.'

Another patient complained that she had to share a ward with 'a row of men' at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital.

'The man opposite had a skin complaint and lay on top of his bed with his pyjamas open and a small paper towel balanced on his private parts,' she recalled. 'Every time he moved, the towel fell off.'

According to the Independent on Sunday, health secretary Patricia Hewitt has given the 10 strategic health authority chief executives two weeks to report on whether the DoH statistics are accurate.

But the media seems to have made up its mind: the PM has some explaining to do.