PERFORMANCE: The North Devon Healthcare Trust is to invest £400,000 in setting up a second medical assessment unit to comply with same sex accommodation requirements.

The new ward will have 17 beds and so will need 17 extra nursing staff. It is due to be opened on August 1. The decision to invest in the extra MAU was taken as most of the incidences where the trust has breached same sex accommodation rules occurred in the existing MAU during busy periods.

The trust has already invested more than £1m in making wards compliant with regulations on same sex accommodation in 2009, including providing single sex bathrooms and toilets for individual patient bays.

Director of nursing Carolyn Mills said: “With planned admissions for operations, we are able to plan our lists to ensure patients are accommodated in the same sex bays. However, with emergency admissions through A&E and MAU we simply cannot predict whether a male or female patient is going to come in, which means planning the right number of same sex bays is difficult.

“We will never compromise the care and safety of our patients which means sometimes a breach will be unavoidable. However, we take the issue of privacy and dignity for our patients very seriously.

“Setting up male and female assessment units along with constantly reviewing how we manage our beds will enable us to make significant progress in tacking this issue”