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'Urgent' training need in care for transgender patients

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Training about how to care for transgender patients is “urgently” needed, the Royal College of Nursing has said as a new survey reveals almost 80% of nurses have never received any education in this area.

The RCN’s survey of 1,200 nursing staff found that around three quarters had seen transgender patients in their work and more than half had cared for them directly.

“Support through learning and development is urgently required”

Wendy Irwin

But 78% had not had any training and, of those who had provided direct care, only 13% said they felt prepared to meet their patients’ needs. In particular, only 14% of nursing staff said their current service was equipped to meet the needs of children who identified as transgender or non-binary.

This was against a backdrop of rising numbers of children experiencing gender dysphoria, said the RCN, pointing to specialist clinic the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust that has reported a 100% increase in referrals this year.

Overall, just 1% of respondents said their pre-registration education had covered care for transgender patients.

Only a fifth of the nurses surveyed said they believed the nursing workforce had the skills to care for transgender adults and children, and three quarters said more training for all health care staff was required.

“All nursing staff from school nurses to children’s nurses need to be prepared to tackle these issues”

Fiona Smith

To tackle the lack of training in this area, the RCN is now calling on the government to ensure all levels of nursing and wider healthcare education includes the care of transgender patients.

Wendy Irwin, RCN diversity and equalities co-ordinator, said: “Over the past few years, rising awareness of gender fluidity has led to more people coming forward – adults and children alike.

“Building both competence and confidence in understanding is key to breaking through stigma, but as this survey shows, support through learning and development is urgently required if we are to provide the care and support trans people need,” she said.

Royal College of Nursing

‘Urgent’ training need in care for transgender patients

Fiona Smith

Fiona Smith, RCN professional lead for children and young people’s nursing, added: “With such a dramatic rise in children identifying as trans or non-binary, it’s critical that all healthcare staff have the skills to help young patients through the difficulties they may be facing.”

“Children often do not know how to seek help, which is why all nursing staff from school nurses to children’s nurses need to be prepared to tackle these issues whenever they arise,” she said.

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