LGBT+ people are being let down by the health and social care sector, with “too few” providers considering the sexual orientation or gender identity of their clients when they plan their services.
In a new report, the Women and Equalities Committee said that 72% of care workers did not did not consider sexual orientation to be relevant an individual’s care. This compares to 68% of health care assistants and 62% of nurses.
The committee said that while few people set out to discriminate, training currently sends the message that sexual orientation and gender identity are not relevant to providing “person-centred care”.
Evidence suggests that most health and social care professionals feel under-equipped to deal with LGBT people’s needs.
Staff may be struggling to communicate effectively with LGBT people or to understand how sexual orientation and gender identity are important to person-centred care, the cross-party group of MPs said.
Over 100,000 LGBT+ people took part in a survey commissioned by the government.
Maria Miller MP, Chair of the
Committee, said: “We found a lot of good will in health and social care services to
make them LGBT inclusive, and examples of good practice that must be shared and
embedded in our services. But unfortunately, the best will in the world won’t
change the systemic failings in areas such as data-collection and training that
are leading to poorer experience when accessing services, and to poorer health
outcomes for LGBT people.
“This can never be acceptable. LGBT-specific services play an essential role in the health and social care services for the moment and must be maintained as long as that’s necessary, but mainstream services must move now ensure that they are inclusive and are effectively identifying and taking into account the needs of the LGBT communities. We must eliminate the unacceptable inequalities in health outcomes that glare out wherever you look.”
The committee said that currently there seems to be neither the leadership necessary to ensure services are designed to be LGBT-inclusive nor swift enough improvements among staff on the ground.
Witnesses to the Committee commented repeatedly on the importance of training of frontline staff.
MPs said staff training varies hugely between disciplines and expressed their concerns that that staff may not receive any training on LGBT issues during any of their professional training.
“Such training should be made mandatory and an integral part of all core medical professional training,” the committee said.
The Care Quality Commission said it will continue to improve how it inspects the experience of LGBT people in adult social care and mental health in-patient wards, and we will begin to inspect all gender identity clinics on a risk basis.
Debbie Ivanova, deputy chief inspector of Adult Social Care for the CQC told the committee that much of this framework is already in place through the CQC’s “key lines of inquiry”.