New Forest East

HEALTH – MIXED-SEX WARDS - 20 December 2000

HEALTH – MIXED-SEX WARDS - 20 December 2000

Dr Julian Lewis: Does the Secretary of State [Alan Milburn] accept that there is a continuing risk to female in-patients in psychiatric institutions from assaults arising from the continuation of mixed-sex wards? Is he aware that, in December 1997, when the Government talked out my private Member's Bill, by which I sought to address the issue, the right hon. Member for Brent, South, then Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health, who had responsibility for such matters, assured me:

"A central monitoring system is being developed which will provide further regular information on authorities' performance against those objectives." – [Official Report, 12 December 1997; Vol. 302, c. 1331.]

Can the Secretary of State therefore explain why, when I tabled a written question on 25 October to ask if he would list the hospitals that have eliminated mixed-sex wards since May 1997, I received a reply that stated:

"At the moment, information on which hospitals in England have eliminated mixed sex accommodation is not available, as data are collected on a health authority basis." – [Official Report, 30 October 2000; Vol. 355, c. 248W.]

What progress has been made during the long period since my Bill was talked out in achieving an objective that, before being elected, the Government boasted that they would make a top priority?

[Mr Milburn: We cannot publish information that we do not have, and the last thing that the hon. Gentleman would want us to do is to make up the data.]

Dr Lewis: The Government ought to have it.

[Mr Milburn: We will get it, and when we do so, we will make it available. This Government, unlike the previous Government, are determined to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation.]