Tackling discrimination against LGBT health workers

Back to all Motions

2015 Health Care Service Group Conference
5 December 2014

Conference notes that there has been considerable progress in the recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity as relevant workplace issues and that much is being done to tackle discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers in the health services across the UK. However, there is still an unacceptable level of discrimination against LGBT staff – much of it unreported – and it is made worse by the austerity pressures on a stressed workforce.

Conference welcomes examples of good practice in tackling this discrimination. Research in Northern Ireland showed that 82% of LGBT people had experienced harassment, which contributed to nearly one in four LGB public service workers concealing their sexual orientation. UNISON raised this with the Public Health Agency, which has led to an award-winning project to increase visibility and awareness. UNISON has also published joint guidance with GIRES, the Gender Identity Research and Education Society, on meeting the needs of trans staff and service users.

Conference notes that the four national health services conduct regular staff surveys, which include questions on equality and discrimination. The surveys ask about experiences in relation to a number of possible discrimination grounds but do not make any reference to discrimination because of gender identity or gender reassignment, despite this having the same legal protection as other grounds.

Conference also notes that national reporting on survey results provides no detail of the experiences of LGB workers.

Conference calls on the national health care service group executive, in liaison with the national LGBT committee to:

1) collate and promote best practice guidance and examples in tackling LGBT discrimination from across our health care branches;

2) call on NHS Scotland, NHS England, NHS Wales and the Health and Social Care Board in Northern Ireland to include reference to discrimination experienced by transgender staff in the respective staff surveys and monitor and evaluate responses;

3) call on branches to interrogate the results for their employer in relation to LGBT equality and push this as a local bargaining issue.