Official guidance from several NHS trusts states that male sex offenders who identify as female can be placed in women-only wards.
According to The Telegraph, hospitals in Devon, Oxford and Nottingham all said that criminal history should be part of a risk assessment when putting men on female-only wards, but do not say it would bar their admission if they identify as the opposite sex.
The policies have been adopted despite a Department of Health order saying hospitals must have single-sex wards.
Devon Partnership NHS Trust says that patients “will be admitted based on the gender which they identify as at the point of admission” and not on physical characteristics or legal sex – which they incorrectly claim would be illegal.
It adds: “Where a transgender woman is admitted and has a history of sex offending, decisions regarding risk should include consideration of whether they are being prescribed anti-libidinal medication that would be expected to reduce sexual risk”.
In Oxford, guidance states that while patients with sex-offence records should have their history considered, risk would be managed “irrespective of gender”.
But staff have said the guidance could breach their code of conduct by leaving the most vulnerable patients at risk.
Speaking to The Telegraph, one nurse explained that risk assessments were not happening due to staff workload.
She said: “In-patients are often frail, elderly and confused and we as nurses have a duty to protect them. They are not being safeguarded and they are not getting the dignity and the privacy they deserve.
“The public believe that we have single-sex spaces for our most vulnerable, our mothers, our grandmothers, but it is simply not true. NHS wards are replicating what is happening in jails.”
Last month, the High Court ruled that men who identify as women are legally permitted to be housed with female prisoners in England and Wales.
A female prisoner, known as FDJ, had challenged a Ministry of Justice policy which allows women’s prisons to house men who wish to “permanently” live as if they were the opposite sex, irrespective of whether they have taken any medical or legal steps.
While judges conceded that it can have a “significant” psychological impact on female prisoners, they determined that the policy is lawful.
Last year, former Cabinet Minister Rory Stewart revealed that there were “situations of male prisoners self-identifying as females then raping staff in prison” during his time overseeing prisons in 2018 and 2019.