Caroline Russell’s new report as chair of the Assembly Health Committee shows the challenges trans and gender-diverse people face when accessing healthcare.
The report details experiences of discrimination and unequal treatment in London, including inappropriate diagnoses and denial of treatment.
The investigation by the Health Committee heard that training of NHS staff is patchy. This can lead to barriers that prevent some people from even booking a GP appointment because they have faced misgendering, microaggressions, and misunderstanding.
One significant challenge in reducing inequalities is the lack of NHS data on trans and gender-diverse people. Incorrect records on NHS systems may result in a patient not being invited for lifesaving cancer screening, and when a healthcare professional is unaware of a patient’s gender identity, they may not use the patient’s preferred gender pronouns.
The Committee is marking the final day of LGBT+ History Month today by publishing its report,Trans health matters: improving access to healthcare for trans and gender-diverse Londoners, which demands that solutions are co-designed, co-delivered and led by the needs of trans and gender-diverse people.
It also recommends that, to avoid the harmful impact of mispronouning and misgendering, NHS Digital should improve NHS IT systems so that all healthcare providers can record trans status in a consistent and inclusive way.
Caroline also asks that, meanwhile, the Mayor should urgently commission research into the healthcare needs of trans and gender-diverse people in London. The London Health Board should work with a trans and gender-diverse consultative group to encourage GP practices to review existing policies to ensure they are properly inclusive of trans and gender-diverse people.
At the launch of the report, Caroline said:
“It is worrying that trans and gender-diverse people currently face long waiting lists for gender-affirmative healthcare, but they also face barriers accessing general healthcare services, like booking a blood test.
“Shockingly, research by TransActual found that 14 per cent of respondents reported being refused GP care because they were transgender, while 70 per cent had experienced transphobia from their primary care provider. The impact of this is that 57 per cent of transgender people are then put off or don’t feel safe seeing their GP when they are ill.
“We were told during our investigation that without data, you are invisible. It is clear that trans and gender-diverse people are being failed by this absence of appropriate recording, which is having a significant impact at both an individual and population level.
“Training NHS staff and adjusting NHS IT systems to be trans inclusive could reduce health inequalities and greatly improve the general healthcare experience for trans and gender-diverse Londoners.”