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2008 National LGBT Conference
16 November 2008

Conference welcomes recent legislation aimed at ensuring more equal access to goods facilities and services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people – especially as this also means more equal access to healthcare provision.

But these are only recent legislative changes, and many reports highlight the entrenched disparities in the provision of health services for LGBT people.

The Stonewall backed report, Prescription for Change, published earlier in 2008 highlighted again some worrying statistics with regard to lesbian and bisexual women:

1.Seventeen per cent of lesbian and bisexual women between the ages of 25 and 64 have never had a cervical smear test, compared to seven per cent of women in general;

2.One in six lesbian and bisexual women aged between 50 and 79 have been diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to one in twenty women in general;

3.Half have had negative experiences in the health sector in the last year;

4.Half of lesbian and bisexual women are not out to their GP;

5.One in ten say that a healthcare worker ignored them when they did come out;

6.Just three in ten lesbian and bisexual women say that healthcare workers did not make inappropriate comments when they came out;

7.Just one in nine felt that their partner was welcome during a consultation.

Conference welcomes the work undertaken over recent years to prioritise LGBT health issues, culminating in work with the Department of Health’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Group (SOGIAG) and the LGBT Health Summit as well as previous work undertaken on producing ‘Not Just a Friend’ in conjunction with other NHS unions and professional organisations, the more recent ‘Charter for Change’ and in campaigning work on the England and Wales Mental Health Act and Code of Practice.

Conference calls for this work to continue.

Conference reaffirms the crucial role that UNISON can play in tackling both workplace causes of discrimination for our members, and also in campaigning to change discriminatory healthcare service provision in our wider communities.

Conference instructs the National LGBT Committee to:

A.Consider how UNISON can help promote recent studies within our health branch networks, with a view to generating awareness of the issues and exploring good practice by UNISON members;

B.As a priority, seek agreement with our colleagues in the UNISON Health Service Team, the General Political Fund Committee, and Labour Link Committee and others about how UNISON can most effectively campaign for more equal access to healthcare provision;

C.To provide information to members generally, via OUT in UNISON, and if possible in the U Magazine, about the issues and how members can get involved.

D.Produce LGBT factsheet information, particularly angled at drawing out campaigning activities that branches and regional LGBT groups can help deliver to tackle discrimination in both healthcare workplaces and in healthcare service provision.

E. Work with the National Women’s Committee’s campaigns for cancer

awareness/prevention to further raise awareness for women around the shocking statistics highlighting the difference between lesbian and bisexual women compared to women in general for cancer.

F. Seek to maximise the use of approaches such as Human Rights Based Approaches to Healthcare and Equality Impact Assessments, with the emphasis on addressing equality issues in healthcare provision, and on health and social staff being able to demonstrate supportive attitudes towards LGBT issues.

G.Identify opportunities to broaden this work into international spheres e.g. by working with ILGA/ILGA-Europe and by encouraging the UK Government to do so within the Council of Europe, Commonwealth and World Health Organisation (WHO).