Perhaps I am a "minority" as an American who believes it important to seek out news from and about the enormous world beyond one's own country. So today, Jan 31st, I stumbled upon an op-ed in The Independent where I learned that about twenty per cent of Britain's hospital patients are compelled to stay in gender-mixed hospital wards. Yes, women and men accomodated in adjoining beds on the same wards. Hmmm... Apparently this brilliant 'gender blind' - or just blind is more like it - policy was birthed back in 1997 by none other than now-ex PM Tony Blair. Reads The Independent: "Eleven years after Mr Blair's burst of incomprehension, one in five patients is still placed in mixed accommodation. The indignity and misery this causes is eloquently chronicled in these pages by Janet Street-Porter, whose sister was treated for terminal cancer on such a ward. Yesterday, a report for the Mental Health Act Commission found that women and young people were accommodated in mixed-sex wards, with the attendant risk of sexual abuse. Many described their stay on such wards as frightening. Whether a patient is physically or mentally ill, such an atmosphere can hardly speed recovery. ... In a rare moment of clarity amid the gobbledegook and spin, Lord Darzi said there could be no single-sex wards [emphasis added] without building "the whole of the NHS into single rooms". Clear this might be, but it is nonsense. Mixed wards will be abolished when the Government gives hospitals no choice but to do so. There can hardly be a prospective patient who does not regard this as an absolute priority. ..." I wonder what Sherry (Blair) thinks about this policy, off the record. Now that Tony's joined her by becoming a Catholic, and were he still prime minister, would he make the same decision today? God save Elizabeth the Queen, who, luckily, need never fret over her own accomodation.