Half of the NHS trusts are breaking government rules by placing patients in mixed-sex wards, according to a new survey.

An estimated 48% of 146 NHS trusts breached the single-sex accommodation rule last month.

This data foor March 2011, collected from providers of care, showed there were 5,446 breaches of mixed-sex rules across England, down from 7,583 in February.

From 1 April this year, trusts were being fined £250 per patient per day for breaking rules.

UK Health Secretary Andrew Lansley introduced the fines last year after saying it was “unacceptable” for trusts to breach the rules.