Health providers have pledged to improve services available to Derbyshire’s LGBT+ community in response to issues raised by the independent patient watchdog, Healthwatch Derbyshire.
Prompted by discussions with Derbyshire LGBT+ and general comments made to Healthwatch Derbyshire as part of the organisation’s community-wide engagement, officers arranged to attend specific groups run by Derbyshire LGBT+ to talk to people about their recent experiences of using health services.
Key findings were:
– Lack of LGBT+-related information and rainbow signs in GP surgeries to show they are LGBT+-friendly
– Distrust amongst many of those interviewed about the referral processes from GPs to gender identity clinics
– The need for better links between GPs and mental health services as people who identify as LGBT+ have a high rate of mental health issues, including a higher suicide rate
– Professionals failing to use a person’s chosen name and not referring to their appropriate gender
– Issues at London Road Sexual Health Clinic in Derby, including access issues, long waiting times, delays in being seen, delays getting results and LGBT+ automatically having to be seen by a doctor.
Healthwatch Derbyshire shared the findings in a report with the health commissioners and providers who have all agreed to review working practice to address the issues raised.
Healthwatch Derbyshire and Derbyshire LGBT+ also recently presented the report to the Royal College of Nursing AGM, and both organisations will continue to work together to collect further feedback from people and monitor improvements.
Actions have included Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the London Road Sexual Health Clinic, increasing capacity for more walk-in appointments, introducing additional call handling lines, improving privacy at reception and stepping up staff training.
Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has set up an inclusion committee in recognition of the need for individuals who are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment to receive the same respect and fairness in treatment as any other person.
The CQC Primary Medical Services Inspection team for the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire area are taking the findings into account when carrying out their inspections of GP practices, particularly when reviewing patient information that is provided in reception areas and on practice websites.
Some of the GP surgeries quoted in the report have also pledged to better display information and the rainbow sign as suggested by patients.
Healthwatch Derbyshire Chief Executive Officer, Karen Ritchie said: “We are delighted that health commissioners and providers across Derbyshire and in Nottingham have responded so positively to the issues that have been raised in this report.
“Healthwatch Derbyshire is an independent voice for the people of Derbyshire. We are here to listen to experiences of all Derbyshire residents and give them a stronger say in influencing how local health and social care services are provided.
“Our engagement team spoke in depth to 25 different people through Derbyshire LGBT+. Although they are not representative of the whole LGBT+ community, they have offered a useful insight into experiences of using health services.
“I hope that the genuine thoughts, feelings and issues that have been conveyed through our report will continue to help healthcare providers and commissioners ensure that services are improved and that all members of our society receive the respect, dignity and high-quality services that they deserve.”
Ian Robson, CEO of Derbyshire LGBT+ concluded: “It is in everybody’s interest to provide good healthcare for all communities, it saves money and saves lives.
“Healthcare providers need to be aware of the needs of different communities they need to work with and educate themselves about the needs and differences within these groups.
“It’s everyone’s right to get good quality healthcare without prejudice and ignorance.”
A full copy of the report is available on the Healthwatch Derbyshire website https://healthwatchderbyshire.co.uk/2017/06/lgbt-experiences-using-health-services/