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As nurses, you can help bring about positive change for LGBT health and social care

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Did you know that lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are more likely to suffer from poorer mental health and physical health than the wider population? asks charity Stonewall

Dr. Ranj Singh

Dr. Ranj Singh

For that reason alone, it’s vital that all health and social care staff understand the issues that affect their LGBT patients, and treat them with respect.

Unfortunately, recent research has proven that this is far from the case.

  • Almost one in five health and social care staff wouldn’t feel confident challenging colleagues who use homophobic language
  • A quarter of all health and social care staff have never received any equality or diversity training, let alone LGBT-specific guidance
  • One in ten health and social care staff directly involved in patient care have witnessed colleagues express the belief that someone can be ‘cured’ of being lesbian, gay or bisexual. A quarter of LGB health and social care staff have been victims of bullying and abuse in the last five years
  • Almost six in ten health and social care staff don’t think sexual orientation is relevant to healthcare

There are clearly serious problems that needs to be addressed.

While there is brilliant work being undertaken by a number of health and social care providers across England, Scotland and Wales, we need to see the same sort of results across the board.

Everyone should feel able to talk freely to their GP without fear of judgement

Staff who are working in the sector should absolutely understand the issues that face LGBT patients, and be able to support those who are dealing with them.

This can’t be done without harnessing the support of our MPs.

Regardless if or how you’re voting in next week’s general election, you can help impact positive change for LGBT health and social care provision in your area.

Find out who your local candidates are, and ask them publicly if they will commit to ensuring that health and social care can be improved to help better the lives of LGBT people in the area.

Areas that urgently need addressing are:

  • Training all frontline health and social care professionals so they understand and can meet the needs of LGBT patients and service users
  • Ensuring NHS England completes the trial programme to provide PrEP as soon as possible, and fully roll out the treatment to high-risk groups to help reduce HIV infection
  • Ending discrimination in blood donation, while maintaining a safe supply of blood. Screen donations according to individual risk rather than excluding men who have sex with men (MSM) as a group
  • Improve access to Gender Identity Services, which are currently not equipped to meet the needs of all trans people seeking their services

Equal treatment when accessing health and social care is, or at least should be, a basic human right.

We must do what we can and work together to make sure that no lesbian, gay, bi or trans person faces discrimination when accessing health or social care simply for who they are.

Dr. Ranj Singh is an NHS clinician specialising in the care of children and young people, a TV presenter, author and columnist

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