Labour’s Wes Streeting backs separate hospital wards for trans patients

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has expressed support for treating trans people in separate wards in hospitals.

Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, made the remark during an interview with Sky News on Monday (29 January), claiming that housing trans people in separate wards would help protect the “integrity” of single-sex wards.

Streeting was appearing on the Politics Hub with Sophie Ridge to discuss a report about cases of sexual abuse on mixed-sex hospital wards. While research from 2023 suggests that mixed-sex wards do pose a significantly higher risk of danger for patients, there is no evidence to suggest that the presence of trans patients in any ward is linked to the number of assaults.

During the interview, Streeting accused former health secretary Steve Barclay of turning trans people into “scapegoats” after Barclay stated he wanted to ban trans women from female hospital wards last year.

However, the shadow health secretary himself then immediately expressed support for housing trans people in separate wards, rather than in wards that correspond with their gender identity.

“It should not be beyond the realms of possibility to have wards for women, wards for men, and also suitable, safe accommodation for trans people too,” said Streeting.

A politician at a podium with two microphones stands infront of a red screen.
Labour MP Wes Streeting has backed separate wards for trans people. (Getty)

Asked by Ridge to clarify whether he meant trans people should be housed separately or whether the ward they are placed on should be determined by their sex or gender identity, Streeting replied: “I think the best thing, both to protect the dignity and respect of trans people, and also to maintain the integrity of single-sex spaces, is to make sure we’ve got single-sex wards – and I think that would be the right and appropriate way forward.”

Addressing the report on abuse on mixed-sex wards, he continued: “At the moment we’ve got the awful situation where, as you said, mixed-sex wards achieved record levels, and that’s not what we want to see.

“We want to see single-sex spaces because they are safer spaces and people, particularly women, feel much more comfortable and safe in women-only wards – and the evidence bears that out too. And we’ve got to put patient safety first.”

A 2022 study revealed that there had been no complaints from patients about being treated in the same hospital ward as a trans woman.

Trans women could be barred from female hospital wards

In October, the then health secretary, Steve Barclay, said that banning trans women from female hospital wards would be “common sense“.

Following the announcement, Suella Braverman, the home secretary at the time, backed her colleague, saying trans women have “no place in women’s wards”, and should be excluded from “any safe space relating to biological women.”

Speaking to Sky News, she said: “The health secretary’s absolutely right to clarify and make it clear that biological men should not have treatment in the same wards and in the same safe spaces as biological women.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer has remained relatively quiet on the issue since Barclay’s announcement.

In April last year, Starmer said he supported single-sex wards. Less than a month earlier, he stated that womanhood was “completely biological” for “99.9 per cent of women.”

Speaking to PinkNews at the PinkNews Awards last October, Tory MP Caroline Nokes criticised Braverman’s continued anti-trans comments.

“The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) is there for a reason – it’s there to protect trans people, it’s there to give them rights,” she said.

“What really worries me is that a woman with a Gender Recognition Certificate, with documentation that says she is a woman, will then be forced into a male ward, and, of course, vice versa.

“To me, this is absolutely undermining the whole principle behind the GRA and it is going to lead to confusion, to fear. We can do better than that,” continued Nokes, the chairwoman of parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee.

PinkNews has approached Wes Streeting for comment.

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