Patient safety

24.01.20

Funding announced for more Changing Places toilets in NHS hospitals

A total of £500,000 has been made available to 10 trusts across England today to start work on 16 new facilities, with an additional £1.5 million available to bid for.

Thousands of severely disabled people will benefit from the new funding, which is expected to more than double the number of Changing Places toilets in NHS hospitals across England.

Changing Places are toilets that are equipped for people who are not able to use the toilet self-reliantly, including adult-sized changing benches and hoists.

Currently there are just over 50 of these facilities on the NHS England estate. This is the first share of funding and it is expected that the final number of Changing Places in hospitals will eventually increase to over 100.

The Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage, is calling for more trusts to bid for the funding and also for all new hospital facilities to include a Changing Places facility in their plans.

People with severe disabilities, such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis, and their carers say Changing Places facilities can be life changing and allow them to go out in public or attend hospital appointments without fear or stress.

The difficulties faced by carers and disabled people in the absence of Changing Places facilities range from having to be changed on a dirty toilet floor, reducing their time out of the housing and restricting their social lives.

The announcement of funding forms part of cross-government work to improve accessibility. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) consulted last year on proposals that would add Changing Places toilets to more than 150 new buildings a year, including shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas, stadiums and darts venues.  

Caroline said: “People with severe disabilities deserve to live with dignity and independence, but lack of access to adequate toilet facilities can be a huge challenge. Hospitals, like all public spaces, have a duty to cater for people with disabilities – who risk discomfort, embarrassment and even injury without access to a Changing Place.”

Lorna Fillingham, Changing Places campaigner, said: “My 9-year-old daughter is disabled, she has physical and learning disabilities that mean she may never be toilet trained. When she was a baby her toileting needs were catered for, but as she has grown older, in most places, including my local hospital, they no longer are.

“Changing Places change lives and should be in place in every NHS hospital for dignity, for safety, for comfort. I’m pleased the government is taking action to improve accessibility and hope more trusts apply for funding and have a Changing Places facility built at their hospital.”

You can find out where the funding is being distributed here.

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