People who describe themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, have described how health professionals treat them, in a survey by Healthwatch Reading carried out jointly with local LGBT+ charity Support U.
The survey was answered by 35 people and found that:
- Just over one-third were not ‘out’ to their GP about their sexual orientation
- People were more willing to be ‘very open’ about their identity with sexual health, mental health or fertility services compared with A&E and other hospital services
- Some people said they would not disclose their sexuality if they did not feel it was relevant
- 11 out of 35 (31%) had experienced anxiety and 13 (37%) had sought help for depression, much higher rates than the general population
- Nobody felt they had been discriminated against by a health professional due to their sexuality, but 17% reported some prejudice, and others felt health professionals showed a lack of knowledge or respect (see box).
The main improvement suggested by respondents was improved training for health and care professionals, as well as more visible signs that a service was LGBT+ aware, such as posters or LGBT+ pins on staff lanyards: ‘Visual clues so I don’t think I’m going to expect judgement for ‘coming out’.’
Our survey findings were similar to that of a government survey of 108,000 LGBT+ people undertaken last year.
We will be discussing our report findings with local services in the coming months to get feedback on suggested improvements.
Our full report is available on our website or you telephone us to be sent a copy.
In their own words:
‘[When I went for a] Regular abdominal scan related to gender transition – operator did not read my medical record and assumed I was cisgender male there for prostate scan.’
‘Being asked continually about pregnancy tests when I have a female partner, am female-bodied and have stated multiple times that I will not be conceiving and there is no chance of being pregnant gets very tiring very quickly!’
‘Some people are very good or at least act professionally, while others are completely ignorant and/or have no idea how to behave, but I have no way of knowing how they will react or what assumptions they will make until I am actually talking to them.’
‘More conclusive information [shown by healthcare professionals about the necessity or otherwise of] cervical screening for lesbians. This caused some confusion at my GP practice.’