The UK’s Government has launched an LGBT action plan, in which it wants to deal with issues facing the LGBT+ community in the UK, including health.
“This Government is committed to making the UK a country that works for everyone. We want to strip away the barriers that hold people back so that everyone can go as far as their hard work and talent can take them”.
Big words, so what exactly are they promising?
Penny Mordaunt, the Minister for Women and Equality has outlined 75 points she wants her office to push in order to achieve better rights, equality, safety and visibility for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people of the UK.
Health was a big part of the government’s action plan, here’s what Ms Mordaunt said she plans to do:
Put LGBT+ people’s needs “at the heart” of the NHS.
We will appoint a National Adviser to lead improvements to LGBT healthcare. The National Adviser will focus on reducing the health inequalities that LGBT people face, and advise on ways to improve the care LGBT people receive when accessing the NHS and public health services. They will work across the NHS to ensure that the needs of LGBT people are considered throughout the health system.
The National Adviser will work to improve healthcare professionals’ awareness of LGBT issues so they can provide better patient care. The National Adviser will work with relevant statutory organisations and professional associations to embed LGBT issues into physical and mental health services.
We will improve the way gender identity services work for transgender adults. In 2019, NHS England will decide on the future configuration of adult gender identity services in England, and will seek to establish a more modern care model that delivers high-quality outcomes in which clinical capacity can be more flexibly deployed. The Government Equalities Office will produce advice about the Gender Recognition Act for GP surgeries and gender identity clinics.
We will improve our understanding of the impacts on children and adolescents of changing their gender. The Government Equalities Office will gather evidence on the issues faced by people assigned female at birth who transition in adolescence.
We will take action to improve mental health care for LGBT people. The Department of Health and Social Care and the Government Equalities Office will jointly develop a plan focussed on reducing suicides amongst the LGBT population. The Department of Health and Social Care will ensure LGBT people’s needs are addressed in the updated Suicide Prevention Strategy, and the new Health Education England suicide prevention competency framework will cover high-risk groups including LGBT people.
We will enhance fertility services for LGBT people. The Department for Health and Social Care will revise surrogacy legislation so single people (including LGBT individuals) can access legal parenthood after a surrogacy arrangement.
We will ensure LGBT people’s needs are taken into account in health and social care regulation. The Care Quality Commission will continue to improve how it inspects the experience of LGBT people in adult social care and mental health inpatient wards, and we will begin to inspect all gender identity clinics on a risk basis. The Care Quality Commission will develop guidance for care quality inspectors on the healthcare pathway for people who are transitioning their gender, and embed LGBT equality issues into the methodology used by inspectors.
We will support improved monitoring of sexual orientation and gender identity in healthcare services to enable better patient care. The Government Equalities Office will develop best practice guidance for monitoring and make this openly available to the public sector, and the National Adviser will work to ensure healthcare professionals understand the benefits of asking patients about their sexual orientation and gender identity. The Care Quality Commission will look at how we can promote the NHS England voluntary sexual orientation monitoring standard for people using health and social care services.
We will work to tackle body image pressures that LGBT young people face. The Government Equalities Office will consider the specific challenges faced by LGBT people as part of our broader work to build the evidence base on the causes and impacts of body dissatisfaction.
We will continue to review the blood donation deferral period for men who have sex with men. NHS Blood and Transplant will explore ways that a more personalised risk assessment can be introduced, to allow more people to donate blood without impacting on blood safety; currently, there is very little data on effective ways of carrying out such risk assessments. The initial scoping, evidence gathering and testing may take up to two years to complete.
We are committed to tackling HIV transmission, AIDS and HIV-related deaths. As part of this, we are currently funding a 3 year trial with 10,000 people to determine how best to deliver ‘PrEP’. NHS England will consider the impact of increasing the PrEP trial further.
We will take action to improve the support for LGBT people with learning disabilities. The Department of Health and Social Care will review, collate and disseminate existing best practice guidance and advice regarding LGBT issues and learning disability; and will also ensure that training requirements for support staff and advocates who work with people with learning disabilities includes advice regarding LGBT people.
Here’s what the government plans are in other key areas: