LGBT community invited to share experiences of accessing social and health care

The Women and Equalities Committee is inviting LGBT+ community to share their experiences of accessing social and health care as part of a new inquiry into how to tackle discrimination.

The committee’s initiative follows from the results of the government’s recent survey of 108,000 LGBT+ people, which highlighted various hurdles still facing members of the community, from not feeling safe holding hands in public to feeling significantly “less satisfied with their life” than the general UK population.

Particularly concerning the committee were findings such as the difficulties reported by more than two thirds of respondents in accessing mental health services, the negative experience of accessing public health services reported by 16 percent of respondents because of their sexual orientation and by 38 percent because of their gender identity, and the widespread feeling among bisexual people of not being comfortable coming out to social and health care professionals.

(NHS England)

The government survey results built upon growing evidence of inadequate provision of social and health care services for LGBT+ people.

At an event on LGBT+ and health inequalities held by the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) in July 2018, researchers noted a conflation of LGBT+ health services with sexual health services which overlooked issues including addiction to alcohol and drugs and intimate partner violence.

A 2016 report by Marie Curie, Kings College London and the University of Nottingham instead highlighted the difficulties LGBT+ people had in accessing end of life care.

The committee now aims to investigate the roots of the inequality in provision of social and health care services between the LGBT+ community and the general population, as well as evaluating whether such provision is adequate, whether discrimination is still occurring, and what more needs to be done to improve access to the services. It will also focus on what should be the priority for the national LGBT+ health adviser the government promised to appoint.

Conservative party MP Maria Miller is the chair of the Women and Equalities Committee (Carl Court/AFP/Getty)

“Evidence suggests that the healthcare needs of LGBT people are not currently being met effectively, some report that they still face discrimination in health and social care, and there are inequalities in outcomes between LGBT groups and the wider population,” the committee chair, Conservative party MP Maria Miller, said in a statement announcing the initiative.

“We welcome the Government’s recently announced Action Plan and its commitment to ensuring that LGBT people’s needs are at the heart of the NHS. This is therefore a crucial time for us to look at how services can best be provided and improved for LGBT patients,” she added, encouraging “organisations, individuals, researchers and service providers” to participate in the inquiry.

The consultation will close on October 5, 2018. Guidance for giving evidence is available here.