An independent survey which was conducted in all mental health units in England and Wales revealed that psychiatric patients continue to remain in mixed wards. This is much against the government's claim that this practice has ended in 99% of hospitals.
The healthcare commission reports that 55% of in-patients are forced to share sleeping accommodation or bathrooms with the opposite sex. This practice has resulted in an increase of sex crimes, abuse, harassment and intimidation among the psychiatric patients.
When the government came to power in 1997, it had pledged to abolish mixed wards but the practice is reported to continue. Subsequently an investigation was ordered by the Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt in November after repeated complaints from patients.
There was a report from National Patient Safety Agency that there were at least 19 rapes of mental health patients in England and other sex related crimes in psychiatric units in the previous two years. But this was declined by Lord Warner, the then health minister.
He also stated that mixed-sex wards are exceptions in cases where patients were admitted in an emergency. But the survey discovered that 45% of the 32,000 in-patients in NHS or private-sector psychiatric wards on March 31 last year had single-sex lodging.
This kind of practice has received huge flak from different people who believe that Psychiatric Patients should be treated with dignity. They also insist that health ministry should explain why mental patients are treated differently from NHS patients.