A report by the Women and Equalities Committee has recommended the introduction of compulsory monitoring of sexual orientation and gender identity across the UK.
The report identifies issues with healthcare for members of the LGBT community. Research by has shown that LGBT people are at higher risk for certain issues, such as smoking and associated health problems, high BMI, and some mental illnesses. However, according to the report, ‘very few front-line services are collecting information about the sexual orientation and gender identity of their patients as part of registration’ and this impacts the care that LGBT people receive.
'We found a lot of good will in health and social care services to make them LGBT inclusive, and examples of good practice that must be shared and embedded in our services. But unfortunately, the best will in the world won’t change the systemic failings in areas such as data-collection and training that are leading to poorer experience when accessing services, and to poorer health outcomes for LGBT people,' said Maria Miller MP, Chair of the Committee.
'This can never be acceptable. LGBT-specific services play an essential role in the health and social care services for the moment and must be maintained as long as that’s necessary, but mainstream services must move now ensure that they are inclusive and are effectively identifying and taking into account the needs of the LGBT communities. We must eliminate the unacceptable inequalities in health outcomes that glare out wherever you look.'
As part of the written evidence compiled for the report, the Nursing and Midwifery Council stated that there are ‘worrying accounts of poor care, discrimination, and a lack of awareness and planning when it came to health and social care provision for LGBT communities’.
Currently, the government’s LGBT Action Plan advocates voluntary sexual orientation monitoring. The report recommends that this monitoring should be made compulsory, and that any service providers that do not comply should ‘face fines at a level equivalent to those imposed for not monitoring ethnicity’. It also recommends the creation of a five-year plan of LGBT campaigns and the inclusion of LGBT content in healthcare education curricula. ‘This is an important commitment to and recognition of the role of data in demonstrating disparities in health and health service use and guiding resource allocation and intervention development,’ said LGBT health expert Dr Lisa Semelyn, who gave evidence to the commitee. ‘These health disparities need to be addressed through not only the development of interventions that are sensitive to the needs of this population but also the development of more inclusive mainstream services’.