Our report, Unhealthy Attitudes (2015), reveals that despite significant changes to the law, lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are faced with daily discrimination in the health and social care system. For this situation to change, we need to challenge unhealthy attitudes and behaviour, and we need help from other organisations to do this.
Health and social care services have a duty to treat people fairly and equally. We would like to see leaders in health and social care send a clear message that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse is unacceptable. In the last five years alone, 24 per cent of patient-facing staff have heard colleagues make negative remarks about lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and one in five have heard negative comments made about trans people.
Shockingly, one in ten health and social care staff across Britain have witnessed colleagues express the dangerous belief that someone can be ‘cured’ of being lesbian, gay or bi.
This is not acceptable.
Unhealthy Attitudes demonstrates that the one-size-fits-all approach to equality and diversity that has dominated public healthcare provision in recent years has created gaps in the way LGBT staff are supported and LGBT patients are cared for.
Achieving equality for LGBT patients and staff in health and social care will require the sector to think differently about how services are provided and managed. Fortunately, getting it right doesn’t need to have a huge impact on budgets. Many interventions cost next to nothing and our recommendations provide a range of practical solutions for health and social care providers to follow.
Crucially, institutions like the health and social care system are part of the fabric of British society and are therefore pivotal in creating a world where people are free to be themselves. We know from the report that most healthcare professionals want to do their best for the LGBT community. We also know there is excellent work being done to achieve equality in the health and social care system. But this report serves as a cautionary reminder that we are not there yet and we cannot be complacent. We all have work to do to before we can say we live in a society where everyone feels free to be who they are, wherever they are.