The public debate around trans and non-binary rights has intensified over recent months, and members of the NHS Confederation’s Health and Care LGBTQ+ Leaders Network have growing concerns about the level of hostility that trans and non-binary staff and patients are now experiencing.
LGBTQ+ leaders agree that organisations in the NHS have a duty of care to all, and it is crucial that everyone, including trans and non-binary patients and colleagues feel respected and safe. Healthcare organisations need to be sure that they are implementing the spirit and the letter of the Equality Act - and striving to create an NHS that is inclusive and where everyone has a sense of belonging.
Given what we know about the poorer healthcare outcomes for the LGBTQ+ population, it remains vital that we maintain the trust and confidence to deliver the best healthcare and tackle health inequalities and improve lived experience for both staff and patients.
LGBTQ+ charities and the organisations that support them have also seen increased hostility, with much of it focused on the Stonewall Diversity Champions Programme. Many organisations in health and care have found Stonewall helpful as a way of developing a sense of belonging and inclusion for LGBTQ+ staff. Any support that helps health and care organisations achieve this aim should be welcome.
The human rights of LGBTQ+ leaders, staff and patients are not negotiable, and all human rights are compromised if any one group is excluded. The LGBTQ+ population is stronger together, we are all stronger when we work together, and we all have a role in ensuring that we have an NHS where all our citizens are respected, treated with dignity, and shown compassion.
Issues of rights, identity and belief are complex and can be difficult to navigate elegantly and the current context makes it harder to communicate across what feels like a polarised divide. Now more than ever is the time to encourage everyone to be good trans allies, we should be having conversations, developing our own understanding, and continuing our learning. We would encourage all health and care leaders to use their platforms to be visibly supportive of their trans and non-binary staff.
The Health and Care LGBTQ+ Leaders Network will be starting a longer conversation about trans allyship in the coming weeks and months. We will be partnering with the NHS Confederation’s Health and Care Women Leaders Network and BME Leadership Network to explore the united action we can take, and we will be holding a learning event for our members later this year.
Throughout this year’s Pride season we will also be holding a tweet chat on visible LGBTQ+ Leadership, we’ll be publishing two podcasts on allyship and sharing a blog on creating inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ patients. Sign up to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter to keep up to date on these and all of our projects.