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Project: Improving healthcare service provision for LGBTQ+ patients

This project investigates LGBTQ+ patients' experiences of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, and healthcare professionals' knowledge and awareness of LGBTQ+ healthcare issues, in order to improve the provision of health services for the LGBTQ+ community through improved training and educational opportunities.

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Research summary

Find out how and why LGBTQ+ individuals experience discrimination from healthcare professionals, and how we propose to address this.

Approximately 10-15% of NHS staff and patients are LGBTQ+, and most healthcare professionals say that they intend to give all patients excellent service, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity.

However, many LGBTQ+ patients report homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic experiences when accessing healthcare. This project investigates why this is happening, and proposes solutions.

We found that NHS staff inadvertently discriminate against LGBTQ+ patients, do not understand why they should be treated differently to cisgender and heterosexual patients, and lack confidence when treating them. This is because they are not trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare issues.

This is compounded when staff are simply unaware that a patient is LGBTQ+. LGBTQ+ patients are less likely to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity if they have had bad experiences when they have done so in the past, creating a vicious circle.

These findings demonstrate that all healthcare professionals require training and education in why an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity matters in terms of their health and healthcare, and how these might affect what they need from healthcare services.

It is important to avoid making assumptions, and to consider any additional support and diagnostics that may be required when caring for an LGBTQ+ patient.

In a report to Dr Michael Brady, National Advisor on LGBT Health at NHS England (October 2022), we proposed that:

  • Professional bodies should include specific LGBTQ+ issues in their educational outcomes and competency assessments.
  • Training providers should develop good quality off-the-shelf training and educational products concerning LGBTQ+ issues.
  • 'Train the trainer' events should be held to improve the standard of education on LGBTQ+ issues across the NHS.
  • There should be more learning interventions that incorporate the real-life experiences of LGBTQ+ patients.