The number of patients forced to endure mixed-sex wards has risen by 50 per cent in a year, despite Government manifesto pledges to end the practice, official statistics show.
Hospitals breached rules which are supposed to put men and women on separate wards on 1,750 occasions in January and February - compared to 1,164 breaches in the same period last year.
The official figures follow manifesto pledges in 2010 and 2015 which pledged to eliminate the practice.
Labour accused ministers of presiding over a “catastrophic collapse” of patient standards.
The statistics suggest record levels of hospital crowding in recent months have forced hospitals to place men and women in beds near each other.
Labour said breaches had “gone through the roof” since Theresa May became Prime Minister last July.
Shadow health minister Jonathan Ashworth accused ministers of abandoning a Tory manifesto pledge, which was made in 2010 and repeated in 2015.
The figures show 5618 in the eight months since she became Prime Minister, compared with just 4259 in the whole of 2015.
Mr Ashworth MP said: “Tory cuts to social care have seen hospital attendances rocket and now it seems Theresa May has given up on her manifesto promise to eliminate mixed sex wards. Patients expect dignity and respect when they’re being treated in hospital but this Government is letting them down.
“The Government has overseen a catastrophic collapse of patient standards and this failure on mixed sex wards is yet another sign that England’s hospitals are at breaking point.
In the 2010 manifesto, the Conservatives vowed to end the practice.
Hospitals were ordered to pay out £250 for every mixed-sex breach - defined as a night spent by a patient on a mixed-sex ward.
In 2012, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said mixed-sex wards had been “virtually eliminated” telling the Conservative Party Conference the next year that they were “virtually gone”.
And in 2015, then Prime Minister David Cameron said: “We said that we would sort out mixed-sex wards and hospital-acquired infections—promise delivered.”
The pledges followed concern from patients groups that patients' dignity had been compromised, with female patients left feeling particularly vulnerable. Research has shown that those on mixed sex wards are at greater risk of attack.
A Government spokesman said: “This is astonishing hypocrisy from Labour.
"The truth is that mixed-sex accommodation breaches are down by around 94 per cent since 2010 – data Labour didn’t even bother to collect, much less act on. The number of breaches are down again since the previous month, and we are investing billions more in the NHS and social care to deliver further progress.”
It comes as health officials admitted that around £800m intended for mental health and community services has been diverted to pay off NHS deficits, health officials have admitted.
The transfer of funds intended for patient care will enable the Department of Health to achieve financial balance, avoiding major political embarassment after a breach of the limits last year.
Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chairman, said: “To do something like this when the NHS is at breaking point is scandalous.
“The NHS is clearly underfunded and services are unable to keep up with rising demand, but instead of addressing this the government has chosen more stopgaps and accounting tricks over providing good services for patients in desperate need.”
He urged the Government to increase NHS funding in line with other leading European economies.
The funding has come from a contingency fund, which stripped around 1 per cent of the budget from every clinical commisisoning group (CCG).
In a letter, seen by Health Service Journal, NHS England says the “full amount” of the fund will now be used to offset financial deficits among NHS trusts.
Earlier this year Simon Stevens, the head of the NHS said the reserves had been built up wiht money that “would have been available from CCGs for mental health services, community health services, primary care and other things”. Any release of such funds required Treasury approval.
Paul Baumann, chief financial officer at NHS England, wrote to CCGs, saying: “The aggregate effect of this will be to increase the surplus across the whole of the commissioning sector by around £800m, which will help to offset the provider deficit position and help to secure a balanced position for the NHS overall.”
The finance chief, who earns at least £205,000, is among 187 officials at NHS England on six figure salaries.
The provider sector was set a target of ending the year with a £250m deficit, which would have enabled most of the contingency fund to be spent on the other priorities.
However, this target was widely deemed unachievable and the latest official forecast for the sector is a £873m deficit. Last year the NHS recorded a record £2.45bn deficit across its provider sector.
A DoH spokesperson said: "No funds are being cut - creating a contingency at the beginning of the year and releasing it now for frontline services is common practice and in fact prudent financial management by the NHS, something we and taxpayers rightly expect.
"We're investing £10 billion to fund the NHS's own plan for the future, supported by a further cash injection of £2bn for social care and £100m for A&E to help to improve care in the community and ease the pressure on hospitals."