2008: Prescription for Change – landmark report on lesbian and bi women’s health
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2008: Prescription for Change – landmark report on lesbian and bi women’s health

This key report highlighted the healthcare needs of lesbian and bi women, which it found had been particularly neglected.

Written by Ruth Hunt and Dr Julie Fish, and carried out in conjunction with De Montford University, it was the biggest survey of lesbian and bi women’s health ever conducted outside of the US. Over 6,000 women took part.

The picture it painted was extremely worrying. It showed that lesbians were more likely to have smoked and to drink heavily than women in general. It also showed that lesbian, gay and bi women were less likely to have had a smear test and more likely to have had breast cancer.

Levels of self-harm and suicide were shown to be significantly higher than in the wider population.

Half had negative experiences of healthcare and a similar number felt unable to be open about their sexual orientation with their GP.

Keira, a woman from the East of England who took part in the survey, said: "I’ve seen two different therapists this year and neither of them raised my sexuality as something that might have an impact on my mental health. I felt as if they might not even know how to raise it because they were heterosexual, and didn’t understand what might and might not arise as issues or problems."

Harriet, from London, shared her experience of direct discrimination: "My partner had an accident in Wales and the staff wouldn’t recognise me as next of kin until we made a fuss. My partner was not physically touched by the female nurses during her six days stay. She had to wash herself or wait till the male nurse came on."

The report was published a year after it became unlawful to discriminate against lesbian and bi women in the delivery of public services and it was a powerful campaigning tool in demonstrating the need for improvements.

It remains one of the few pieces of research on this subject and is frequently referenced by LGBT charities worldwide and in parliament on matters relating to LGBT healthcare.

We have made incredible progress toward LGBT equality over the last 30 years, but the fight is far from over.