Most health care professionals have no clue how to deal with transgender patients

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A report has found that the UK’s health service is failing to meet the needs of transgender people, with a lack of training leaving nursing staff unprepared to care for them.

The news comes from the Royal College of Nursing, following on from other damning warnings about the state of trans-specific gender services on the NHS.

An RCN survey of more than 1,200 nursing staff has found that many health care staff have been left without skills needed to care for the rising numbers of transgender patients.

78% had not had training on how to care for transgender people, and only 13% of those surveyed said they had felt prepared to meet the needs of trans patients they had cared for.

The survey also revealed a severe lack of training, with nearly four in five nursing staff having had no training at all in this area, and just 1% saying their pre-registration training covered this subject.

One nurse said: “There appears to be a mismatch between the need for these services and the training given.

“I think currently there is not enough support and this adds further distress to the experience of this group of patients.”

The findings also point to issues in the care of transgender children, with only 14% of nursing staff saying their current service is equipped to meet the needs of children who identify as transgender or non-binary.

The RCN is calling on the Government to ensure the care of transgender patients is introduced at all levels of nursing and wider health care education.

Wendy Irwin, RCN Diversity and Equalities Coordinator, said: “Over the past few years, rising awareness of gender fluidity has led to more people coming forward – adults and children alike.

“Building both competence and confidence in understanding is key to breaking through stigma, but as this survey shows, support through learning and development is urgently required if we are to provide the care and support trans people need.”

The RCN recently released updated guidance for clinicians treating trans patients.

They said: “The RCN recognises that trans people frequently experience prejudice and discrimination. This resource is designed to help you respond to the needs of patients and clients who identify as transgender.

“Initially created in response to an RCN Congress resolution, this guidance has been updated following further research from other organisations.”