NHS hospitals have spent £800,000 on building gender-neutral toilets

NHS hospitals have spent more than £800,000 on 740 new gender-neutral toilets since 2018

  • EXCLUSIVE: Nearly 740 unisex toilets were either built or converted since 2018
  • Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust alone spent more than £586,000 on loos
  • Pressure groups say the cash spent flies in the face of Government guidance 

NHS hospitals have spent more than £800,000 on gender-neutral toilets in the past four years, MailOnline can reveal. 

Data obtained by the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) shows nearly 740 new unisex toilets were either built or converted since 2018 — including during the Covid pandemic. 

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, in Merseyside, alone spent more than £586,000 on 63 gender-neutral lavatories.

It is not clear how many of the toilets are single unisex or shared ones, with the latter causing the greatest concern among women.

Liverpool Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust — which specialises in treating women and babies — has installed three new gender-neutral facilities in the last four years, costing around £1,000. 

Pressure groups said the cash spent by trusts flies in the face of Government guidance, which states ‘there needs to be proper provision of gender-specific toilets’.

NHS nurses and midwives told MailOnline existing women-only toilets should not be repurposed as gender-neutral facilities, adding: ‘We know there are not enough toilets for women to use.’ 

The total £818,125 spent on toilets could have been used to pay the salary of 42 new nurses for a year. 

The figures include facilities that are for staff only and do not affect patient access. They do not include disabled toilets, which are normally always unisex.

NHS hospitals have spent more than £800,000 on gender-neutral toilets over the past four years, MailOnline can reveal. Map shows: The 16 hospitals in Britain that have built new gender-neutral toilets or converted old gender-specific ones from 2018 to 2022

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust in Merseyside alone spent more than £586,000 on 63 gender-neutral lavatories. Pictured: The Rowan View hospital in Liverpool, which features some of the new toilets

The Aneurin Bevan University Health Board in Gwent, Wales, built the most gender neutral toilets, installing 455 in its new Grange University Hospital (pictured)

It comes days after the National Trust was accused of pursuing a ‘woke agenda’ for introducing gender-neutral toilets at 17th-century property in Wales.

A row broke out online after a woman said she opened a door in toilets at Tredegar House in Newport to reveal a man urinating without the door locked.

A sign on the lavatory door of the café said: ‘Gender-neutral toilets. Alternative toilet facilities are available by the main car park.’

Feminist groups have increasingly called to make sure women have access to single-sex bathrooms to ensure they feel safe and have privacy.

The National Trust has been accused of pursuing a ‘woke’ agenda after introducing gender-neutral toilets at a property amid fears they could pop up elsewhere.

A row broke out online after a woman said she opened a door in toilets at Tredegar House in Newport, South Wales, to reveal a man urinating without the door locked.

A sign on the lavatory door of the café at the 17th-century property said: ‘Gender neutral toilets. Alternative toilet facilities are available by the main car park.’

Bosses said the gender neutral toilet was introduced during refurbishment – and that men’s, women’s and accessible toilets are available near the visitor reception.

But visitors threatened to cancel their membership – which costs £76.80 a year for adults or £133.80 for a family – and boycott its 500 sites across Britain amid the row.

Under-fire Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week insisted ‘biology is critical’ when approaching questions about gender-neutral toilets — although he avoided expanding on the issue.

The majority Britons say they prefer having separate toilets just for men and women, according to a YouGov poll in January this year. 

Government guidance issued in January last year stated: ‘There needs to be proper provision of gender-specific toilets for both men and women, with a clear steer in building standards guidance.’

It cited concerns around the removal of male- or female-only spaces in favour of gender-neutral toilets.

‘This places women at a significant disadvantaged,’ the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities and Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government advice said. 

Elliot Keck, investigations campaign manager at the TPA, told MailOnline: ‘Taxpayers are sick of seeing NHS managers splash out on redundant refurbishments.

‘Gender-neutral toilets go against clear government guidance that there ‘needs to be proper provision of gender-specific toilets’.’

He added: ‘NHS Trusts should stop these conversions and focus money on frontline health services.’

In total, 16 NHS trusts in Britain added gender-neutral toilets over the last four years, the analysis showed.

The data was obtained through Freedom Of Information (FOI) responses from 120  hospital trusts and boards in Britain. 

After Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, which has 19 hospitals across Merseyside, the Trust spending the most on gender-neutral toilets was Solent NHS Trust.

The Trust runs 21 hospitals in Portsmouth, Southampton and Hampshire. 

It spent £228,341 on the facilities over four years, £45,000 during the first year of the pandemic and £27,341 last year.

A sign on the lavatory door of the café at Tredegar House in Newport, South Wales, says: ‘Gender neutral toilets. Alternative toilet facilities are available by the main car park’

Tredegar House is deemed one of the most significant late 17th-century houses in Britain

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust redesignated the most toilets to be gender-neutral during the period, changing signs on existing gender-specific toilets.

Kat Barber, a registered nurse and founder of Sex Not Gender Nurses and Midwives — which include NHS workers — told MailOnline the new toilets should not have come at the expense of women-only toilets.

She said: ‘We welcome the creation of new gender-neutral toilet facilities, however these should be in addition to single sex facilities, and not in replacement of. 

‘We know already women face barriers to accessing toilets, especially those with young families; we know there are not enough toilets for women to use.’

Liverpool Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust costed its three gender-neutral toilets as ‘less than £1,000’.

Lawyer group Legal Feminist told MailOnline it welcomes separate unisex facilities as long as ‘there is still adequate and clearly labelled single sex provision for women’.

Meanwhile, the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board in Gwent, Wales, built the most gender-neutral toilets, installing 455 in its new Grange University Hospital.

WHAT DID THE NHS HOSPITAL TRUSTS SAY? 

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust 

Gender neutral toilets: 63

Total cost: £586,080

A spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The FOI request did not specify a definition for ‘gender neutral toilets’ so Mersey Care took it to mean any toilet not fitted with a urinal so anyone can use them, but not including disabled or patients’ en-suite facilities. 

‘Many of these 63 toilets on Trust premises have been installed to make cost effective use of space in our hospitals.

‘The majority of these toilets have been installed in recently built, state of the art hospitals like Rowan View, our medium secure hospital at Maghull Health Park, and Hartley Hospital, our mental health inpatient unit based in Southport. 

‘It is impossible to calculate the cost of toilets alone, so we have done so on a cost per square metre which is why the overall figure looks disproportionately high.

‘Mersey Care remains committed to the highest standards of healthcare and our highest priority is ensuring patients, service users, carers and staff are provided with a safe environment to live and work, one which preserves the individual’s dignity and wellbeing and enhances their chances of recovery.’

Solent NHS Trust

Gender neutral toilets: 29

Total cost: £228,341

A spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘It is wrong to suggest we are not adhering to government guidance, as we have gender-specific toilets across all of our sites and inpatient services, with additional gender-neutral facilities underpinning our commitment to improving accessibility within our buildings and being as inclusive as possible.’

Velindre University NHS Trust 

Gender neutral toilets: 23

Total cost: £0

A spokesperson said: ‘The Trust has improved patient and visitor access to toilets by changing 23 of its existing single-occupant toilet rooms that were previously assigned “male” or “female” into toilet rooms that can be used by any gender. 

‘There were no costs involved in converting the existing toilets as the conversions only required a change in signage. 

‘We have not received a single complaint about the changes.’

Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Gender neutral toilets: 13

Total cost: Not provided

A spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Separate female and male toilets are in place throughout the hospital site, including all clinical areas.

‘As an inclusive organisation that respects equality, inclusion and diversity, the Trust changed signage for a small number of individual toilet cubicles in to gender neutral toilets in 2019.’

Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust 

Gender neutral toilets: 13

Total cost: Not provided

A spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We provide gender-specific toilets in the hospital’s main entrance, Urgent and Emergency Care Centre and various other locations around the site. 

‘Therefore we consider we are entirely compliant with national guidance.

‘In the last financial year, we installed an accessible toilet as part of the refurbishment of our Outpatient department. 

‘As with the majority of accessible toilets, it is gender neutral and all our accessible toilets are single occupancy.’

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 

Gender neutral toilets: 2

Total cost: £72

A spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘There has been no change to the number of gender-specific public and patient toilets. 

‘We recently opened a gender-neutral changing room for staff, which has two toilets.’

NHS Ayrshire and Arran

Gender neutral toilets: 15

Total cost: Not provided

A spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The limited number of gender neutral toilets introduced by NHS Ayrshire & Arran comprise an important resource and are supplemented by many more gender specific toilets which number in the hundreds across the Boards estate, ensuring that we meet government guidance.’ 

Trusts yet to respond to MailOnline:

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust

Gender neutral toilets: 25

Total cost: Not provided

Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Gender neutral toilets: 13

Total cost: Not provided

Liverpool Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Gender neutral toilets: 13

Total cost: ‘Less than £1,000’

South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust

Gender neutral toilets: Three

Total cost: £100 

University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust

Gender neutral toilets: Two

Total cost: £0

Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust 

Gender neutral toilets: One

Total cost: Not provided

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust

Gender neutral toilets: One

Total cost: Not provided

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