"When this Government was elected I gave a pledge that, as part of our concern to ensure quality, we would work towards the elimination of mixed- sex accommodation, and that is exactly what I am doing."
The money is part of the pounds 1.1bn for NHS capital projects announced in November, which was divided among health authorities yesterday. The biggest allocation, of pounds 14.2m, was for a new obstetrics development in Sheffield.
The NHS Confederation, which represents health authorities, said that by next month two-thirds of trusts would have complied with government objectives aimed at phasing out mixed-sex wards.
Tim Jones, policy director, said: "This money is welcome ... [but] the only problem may be that ending mixed-sex wards will result in lower occupancy rates and may mean that more beds are needed."
A National Consumer Council survey last year showed that sharing wards with the opposite sex was the biggest complaint among patients.
More than two-thirds of women and 40 per cent of men objected to the practice, which started in the 1970s.
Patients' groups welcomed the announcement but warned that a "massive political will" was needed to ensure the money was spent on ending the indignity of mixed-sex wards.Reuse content