It seems as though Government inquiries and consultations in relation to transgender people are like buses at the moment – you wait years for anyone to take an interest, and then suddenly they all come at once.
The most talked about consultation of the moment is the one regarding the Gender Recognition Act; prompting numerous headlines and constant speculation and discussion on online platforms. However, as the transgender community keeps on stating, the GRA Consultation is probably one of the least important inquiries – at least in relation to potential benefits to the transgender community.
As noticed at the recent #StillHere transgender conference event last month, the topic that is closest to the hearts of most trans people is that of healthcare. Whether medical treatment or mental health support, the experiences that trans people have with the NHS, either in supporting transition, or as a trans patient, seem to dominate many conversations.
Fortunately, following a survey into LGBT healthcare under the NHS, the Government launched an Inquiry to find out more about the LGBT communities’ thoughts and experiences of health and social care within the NHS.
The Health and Social Care and LGBT Communities Inquiry was launched in August and all submissions have to be made by the deadline of FRIDAY 5th OCTOBER 2018.
About the Health and Social Care and LGBT Communities Inquiry
The existing evidence shows that health outcomes are generally worse for LGBT people than for the rest of the population. It is for this reason that The Women and Equalities Committee launched an inquiry to consider whether provision is adequate, whether discrimination is still occurring, and what more needs to be done to improve access to health and social care.
The Government’s recent survey of 108,000 LGBT people found that many had difficulties accessing healthcare services, some had experienced inappropriate questioning and curiosity from healthcare staff, and that many feel their specific needs are not taken into account when it comes to their care.
The Government’s LGBT Survey found that:
- At least 38% of survey respondents had a negative experience of accessing public health services because of their gender identity
- 72% of LGBT people who had accessed or tried to access mental health services reported that it had not been easy. Fifty one per cent said they had to wait too long, 27% were worried, anxious or embarrassed about going, and 16% said their GP was not supportive
- 40% of trans people have had a negative experience of healthcare in the past year, saying that accessing sexual health services is “not easy”;
- Nearly a quarter (23%) say that being out in a care setting has had a negative effect on their care.
While the results of these findings from the LGBT survey are damning enough, the reality for the transgender community accessing NHS healthcare services is often even worse.
The Women and Equalities Committee’s report on transgender equality published in January 2016 has already made a number of conclusions and recommendations relating to access to health and social care for transgender people.
The Women and Equalities Committee Report on Transgender Equality noted issue with:
- NHS Services
- Professional regulation of doctors
- Treatment protocols
- Capacity and quality of services
- Social care for young people.
Why should you respond to the Health and Social Care and LGBT Communities Inquiry?
Since the report was published in January 2016, the situation for many transgender people accessing NHS healthcare services has only become worse. It is therefore imperative that the trans community, along with parents, partners, and carers respond to this current inquiry and make their voices heard. Waiting lists for Gender Identity Clinics are now nearly three years long at some GICs, and there is still a huge amount of misinformation and a lack of education within primary care services. Whatever your experiences with the NHS, the feedback you give will not only benefit you, but also future generations of transgender and non-binary young people.
Don’t just speak-up in closed social media groups and at transgender specific events like #StillHere – Now is the time to make sure that those who can make a difference hear your concerns.
How do I respond to the Health and Social Care and LGBT Communities Inquiry?
There are further guidelines here on how to complete your submission, but the most important thing is that you actually respond! Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly written, or doesn’t follow the suggested format – your words and experiences are crucial to improving the current NHS England healthcare services for transgender people.
Brief Guidelines for completing the Health and Social Care and LGBT Communities Inquiry:
- State clearly who the submission is from, i.e. whether from yourself in a personal capacity or sent on behalf of an organisation.
- Be concise – ideally no more than 3,000 words
- Begin with a brief overview in bullet point format of your main arguments
- Include a brief introduction about yourself/your organisation and your reason for submitting evidence
- Have numbered paragraphs
- Include any factual information where relevant
- Include any recommendations for action by the Government or others which you would like the committee to consider.