Promoting LGBT Equality in the NHS

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2007 National LGBT Conference
10 September 2007

Conference notes the increasing evidence of health inequalities facing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people including:

1.Higher levels of tobacco, alcohol and drug usage;

2.Higher levels of anxiety, depression and self harm.

Conference recognises that there are many causes from such inequalities including:

A.Experiences of bullying and harassment at school;

B.Experiences of hate crime;

C.Discrimination at work;


Conference believes that all National Health Service (NHS) staff have a role to play in addressing these health inequalities.

Examples include:

I.Workers in children’s services (including mental health services and school nurses) having an awareness of the difficulties many young people face in coming out or in experiencing bullying at school;

II.Mental health workers who are able to support LGBT people;

III.All NHS staff have a crucial role to play in ensuring that there is a zero tolerance of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic harassment or abuse within NHS service delivery;

IV.Continued importance on the need for each service user being able to chose their own ‘Next of Kin’ or ‘named contact’;

V.Maternity services being able to be supportive towards same sex parents;

VI.Developing approaches where staff become more confident at dealing effectively with instances of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic harassment.

Conference welcomes the contribution of the UNISON Charter for Change for LGBT Equality which stresses how public service provision is of vital importance in addressing inequality and gives particular attention to the role that NHS staff can play.

Conference also welcomes such initiatives as the Department of Health’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advisory Group and UNISON’s continued contribution to this and the LGBT Healthier Scotland Initiative.

Both initiatives have a combined approach which stresses the importance of both service delivery aspects as well as the need to address inequality in employment.

In addition to this Conference welcomes the establishment of an annual “LGBT Health Summit” and believes that bringing together workers from across healthcare provision as well as from trade unions, professional bodies and community and campaigning groups is a vital step towards raising awareness of LGBT equality within NHS provision and employment.

Conference calls therefore on the Service Group Executive to continue to work with the LGBT Self Organised Group to:

a.Continue to raise the profile of publications such as ‘Not Just a Friend’ and the Charter for Change for LGBT Equality with NHS bodies at national level;

b.Emphasise the importance of all staff having the confidence to be able to deal with instances of harassment, in particular from other service users, both as part of the requirements of the Knowledge and Skills Framework and as past of individual professional responsibility;

c.Seek means of supporting the LGBT Health Summit to ensure that there continues to be a visible trade union presence at the event, stressing the role that trade unions play at both local and national levels;

d.Continue to support the work of the Department of Health Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advisory Group.