General Pharmaceutical Council
25 Canada Square
Sent by email 18.03.21
Dear Mr Rudkin,
Thank you for your latest correspondence received on March 2nd, 2021.
We were reassured to read that your:
“focus is on supporting the pharmacies to make improvements so that all of their patients, including transgender patients, receive safe and effective care.”
And that you are not:
“trying to prevent pharmacies supplying medicines lawfully to patients undergoing treatment for gender dysphoria; we just want to make sure that this is done safely.”
We agree that safety is paramount. As we are all acutely aware, failure to provide access to legitimate treatment merely increases the likelihood of individuals seeking treatment via alternative routes which can put their health at risk – something we are all anxious to avoid – and indeed the very reason GenderGP was set up in the first place.
You may be interested to know that we sent out a survey to our service users in order to get a better understanding of their first hand experiences with accessing their medication via their local pharmacy. We were pleased to find that the majority of service users had been successful.
It was, however, of great concern to learn that in almost a quarter of cases where their pharmacist refused to dispense, the individual was given no reason why this was the case. Evidence, if it were needed, that there is still work to be done.
Your campaign from 2017 with the LGBT Foundation certainly shows that you are aware of the challenges facing the trans community. Indeed in the article you shared it is clear that you are looking to actively encourage pharmacies to “respect and safeguard a person’s dignity and support LGBT people to access the services they need.” Four years on, the need for this is greater than ever.
Ignorance still exists and if we do not continue to educate then access to care will never be truly inclusive.
We would like to reiterate our offer to join us in our efforts to educate and inform via one – or more – of the following:
- An interview with our clinical team.
- Join us on our podcast to discuss pharmacy safety.
- Write a blog for our website.
As your Pride in Practice article proudly states: “evidence shows that LGBT people experience barriers in accessing health and social services due to a lack of understanding of their specific needs and a lack of targeted service promotion. Furthermore, research has also demonstrated that LGBT people are less likely to engage with health interventions and screening programmes if it is not explicit that they are welcome to access the service.”
As the pharmacy regulator, you can play a pivotal role in ensuring the message you are sending out, in relation to the support of trans individuals, is loud and proud.
I hope you will take us up on our offer.
Katie Tiplady Startin
Chief Operating Officer