A quarter of lesbian, gay and bisexual health and social care staff have experienced homophobic abuse from colleagues in the last five years, according a latest survey results.
Research released today by Stonewall suggests that lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people are facing unhealthy attitudes from some health and social care professionals.
“There are worrying gaps in knowledge and training relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people”
The YouGov research, conducted for the equality charity, surveyed 3,001 health and social care workers across the UK. The online survey was undertaken from 18 September to 17 October 2014.
Workplace bullying was found to be commonplace in health and social work, claimed the charity, which has published the survey findings in a report called Unhealthy Attitudes.
One survey respondent, Amira, described as a nurse in the South West of England, said: “Managers tend to say ‘Oh, it’s only banter’.”
A quarter of lesbian, gay and bisexual staff said they had personally experienced homophobic, or biphobic, bullying from colleagues in the last five years.
A similar percentage reported hearing colleagues make negative remarks about lesbian, gay or bisexual people, or use language like “poof” or “dyke” in the last five years.
However, 60% of staff who heard discriminatory remarks about lesbian, gay and bisexual people did not report them.
Meanwhile, it found that 10% of respondents directly involved in patient care had witnessed colleagues expressing the belief that lesbian, gay and bisexual people can be “cured” – rising to 22% in London.
“I work with a lot of gay, lesbian and trans nurses, and they are brilliant. I am proud to work with them and would definitely not accept discriminatory behaviours towards them”
Lucy, a nurse in London
In addition, the survey found trans people were subject to discrimination, with negative remarks or offensive language such as “tranny” and “she-male” being heard by 20% of staff from colleagues.
Stonewall noted that public bodies have a legal duty to advance equality and eliminate discrimination.
However, the charity said many survey respondents said they had received little or no equality and diversity training.
“Training is invariably online and pretty rubbish to be honest,” said Doug, a nurse in Scotland.
Practitioners also showed a lack of awareness of the relevance of sexual orientation to healthcare needs, with 57% saying they did not consider sexual orientation to be relevant to health needs.
Ruth Hunt, chief executive at Stonewall, said: “This report shows there are worrying gaps in knowledge and training relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.
“This is creating a healthcare system that treats both its LGBT patients and colleagues unfairly leading to inevitable ongoing health inequalities,” she said.
Stonewall is calling for a highly visible anti-bullying and discrimination campaign across the NHS, as well as training in health and social care organisations and universities.