We conducted a telephone survey of medium secure units in England and Wales to determine the distribution of women patients.
The survey identified 1836 medium secure beds, housing 342 women patients. Women in the NHS were housed primarily in mixed-gender units (170 women, 94%). Most NHS beds in single-gender units were for men (56 beds), whereas most private sector beds in single-gender units were for women (79 beds).
Increased awareness of the often inappropriateness of services for women in mixed-gender units has led to units deciding not to admit women patients and, inadvertently, more single-gender beds for men in NHS units than for women. The NHS units have to rely on private sector units to provide beds in single-gender units for women, perhaps at the expense of effective continuity of care.
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