Fighting cuts in the National Health Service and Fighting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Inequalities

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2011 National LGBT Conference
20 November 2011

The Health and Social Care Bill 2011 represents the biggest shake-up of the National Health Service (NHS) since its inception by a Labour Government in 1948.

The NHS that we know and love is under threat. The Tory-led government plans to massively shake-up the NHS which has the potential to cause devastating damage. Government plans will turn it into a business where taxes will increasingly pay for profit-drive companies to provide healthcare.

The cuts which are becoming eceident cast serious doubt over the Government’s repeated pledges that NHS frontline services will be protected from budget-tightening across the rest of the public sector.

What does this mean for the Lesbain, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community?

NHS trusts across the country have started tighter rationing of NHS funding for a range of treatments such as In Vitro Fertilisation and many are taking steps to scale back and reduce access to whole swathes of vital healthcare including Human Immunodeficiency Virus services, sager sex services, fender reassignment surgery, mental health and addiction services.

The South East region has received anecdotal ecvidence that some Primary Care Trusts are deferring decision and funding for treatment and gender reasssignment surgery.

There is already a shortage of psychiatric and psychological prrofessionals in relation to assessment which results in further delay in access to treatment and transition. Some Gender Identity Clinics require service-users to start living fuoll-time in the opposite role, withou the benefit of substantial psychotherapy or any feminising or masculinising homones. It is only when the change of role is deemed ‘successful’, that treatment with hormones is iniatated. this likely to cause a delay of serveral months in accessing medication. this could be regarded as non-clinical delay and, therefore, may be open to legal challenge in regards to National Health Service targets amd equality legislation.

The NHS reforms include establising local clinical commissioning. this results in a postcode lottery. We know that a large number of the LGBT community do not feel safe or confident enough to be ‘out’ to their health care providers. There is a real danger that in the futture LGBT specific healthcare needs will be overlooked. We fear that the sheer number of changes being made to the structure of the health system ris creating huge confusion and possible inequality.

As a public sector trade union our business is protecting workers’ rights. Fighting public sector cuts and reforms such as this are the biggest challenges to our union for a generation. We are also concented about the quality, appropriateness and accessibility of the services our members deliver – and use themselves.

Conference urges the National LGBT Committee to:

1.Work with the Health Care Service Group to request a campaign for health services that meet the needs of the LGBT Community;

2.Work with the national Health Care Service group to highlight this inequality and potential discrimination;

3. Seek to ensure that in the future LGBT equality issues are integrated and mainstreamed into the Health Care Servbice Groups campaigning to protect the NHS;

4.Work with the Health Care Service Group and other relevant groups to expose coalition pledges to protect NHS frontline patient care and treatment as a myth by highlighting cuts to LGBT specific health services.

5.Explore and highlight strategies which encourage members of the LGBT community and LGBT groups to link into UNISON’s and our partners’ national and local campaigns to protect the NHS