THE trust running Redditch's Alexandra Hospital has explained why it will not be fined £126,000 over its use of mixed-sex wards.

As we previously reported Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust faced a potentially steep fine for placing hundreds of patients in wards with the opposite sex.

The trust says that clinical commissioning groups in Worcestershire, which impose the fines, would not be punishing the trust.

A spokesman for the trust said: “We make every effort to protect our patients’ privacy and dignity and that includes a zero tolerance approach to the use of mixed sex accommodation.

“However, at times of very high demand, it is sometimes necessary, in the interest of patient safety, to use all available beds even where that may be in breach of the guidance.

“This does leave us liable to potential fines, which would be imposed by our local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

"The CCGs monitor our performance very closely and we provide them with all relevant information in an open and transparent way.

"However, under the current contractual arrangement with our Worcestershire CCGs, these penalties are not imposed on us by them.

"This does not in any way lessen our commitment to reducing mixed sex breaches but it does mean that money which might otherwise be needed to pay fines can be invested in further improvements to patient care.

“The arrangement with Worcestershire CCGs covers around 90 per cent of the patients affected.

"Where patients from other CCG areas are affected by a mixed sex breach, we negotiate a settlement with the relevant CCG directly."

According to data from NHS England, the trust recorded 504 instances of ‘unjustified’ mixed-sex accommodation in the 12 months to April 2018.

Rules have been in place since 2011 to ensure patients only sleep in single-sex accommodation.

Hospital trusts could face a £250 fine for each breach.

Hospital trusts that breach the rules by placing a patient in accommodation with the opposite sex face a £250 fine each time.

This means that the trust could have faced a bill of up to £126,000 over the 12 month period to April.