New prototype technologies to improve patient privacy and dignity in the UK’s NHS hospitals have been unveiled by Health Minister Ann Keen.

The design concepts and prototypes include universal patient gowns to keep the wearer’s body covered and warmer, and BedPod to create a private, patient-controlled bed environment.

The prototypes include novel screening systems, which improve privacy and dignity, and a flexible signage system that allows staff to designate same-sex areas, as well as a capsule washroom, which refits wards to create single-sex toilet and washing facilities.

In addition, the prototypes include a unique hybrid between a wheelchair and a bed, which provides greater comfort and security for patients being moved around the hospital.

“As a nurse, I know that patients expect and deserve not only high-quality, safe and effective care, but a dignified experience when they go into hospital,” Keen said.

“I have spent years being embarrassed by asking people to wear revealing patient gowns and I know that patients will feel far more confident with the new design.”

The designs developed under the Design for Patient Dignity programme from the Department of Health and Design Council are expected to be introduced to hospitals in 2011.