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Patients could face discrimination if they refuse care from transgender doctors, NHS bosses said


Patients could be found guilty of discrimination if they refuse care from a transgender doctor, according to new NHS guidelines.

Health bosses have been warned that patients have no right to be told a health professional’s assigned sex at birth.

However, transgender health professionals may choose not to treat patients if they are not comfortable doing so, the NHS Confederation report said.

The report, published earlier this month in conjunction with the LGBT Foundation, says patients can only seek care from a member of the same gender in limited circumstances, such as if they are undergoing an intimate examination.

It states that when a patient asks an employee providing care to be a woman or a man, “the comfort of the staff member should be given priority”.

Patients with dementia ‘need to be challenged’

The report goes on to say that “the patient has no right to be told that the person treating them is trans or non-binary,” adding: “It would likely be discriminatory if the patient refused to be treated or cared for by a trans person, unless there is clear and proven clinical harm to the patient.”

Patients with dementia “should still be challenged” if they express discriminatory views of transgender staff, the 97-page guide states, while their family members “could be removed from the premises” if they do the same.

But a non-binary physician may refuse to treat a patient, advising that they “should not be compelled to provide care if doing so would cause unnecessary distress or invalidate their lived experience of gender.”

It comes as the NHS published its first Equality, Distraction and Inclusion (EDI) plan, outlining that organizations should include “diversity training on gender reassignment and sexual orientation” in mandatory training for health professionals.

‘Nobody working for the NHS should be discriminated against’

NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said: “Trust leaders are committed to ensuring that all their staff are treated with dignity and respect and the publication of the NHS’s first ever EDI plan is a welcome step towards of that ambition.

“Nobody working for the NHS should be subject to harassment, harassment, discrimination or violence because of who they are, but study after study shows that unfortunately this behavior is all too common in the healthcare sector.

“Trust leaders are determined to eradicate these structural, persistent inequalities. They work hard to instill values ​​and behaviors that create a more equal, diverse and inclusive health care system, providing fair treatment and opportunity for all.”

NHS Confederation CEO Matthew Taylor said: “This is a guide for our members on how to be effective and active allies for their trans and non-binary employees. It does not constitute a formal policy for the NHS.

“Based on independent interpretations of equality legislation and extensive engagement with our partners, the guide advises that if a patient asks to be seen by an NHS staff member with or without a particular protected characteristic, the healthcare provider would not be required to under this or any other legislation to comply therewith.

“The exception to that would be, unless there was a clinical need or benefit to do so, also around supporting the patient’s psychological well-being. As the guide says, there are likely to be very few circumstances in which this would happen and decisions will always be made on a case-by-case basis.’

He added: “We understand this is a contentious area so we have conducted an independent procurement process for an expert body to carry out this work on our behalf for our members – we are grateful to the LGBT Foundation for doing this and for the responses we have received so far from our members and partners.”

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