Following the publication last year of the National LGBT Survey and LGBT Action Plan the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee set up an inquiry on how well policy makers and service-providers were considering the health and social care needs of LGBT+ communities. The committee received 100 written submissions, and after holding an outreach event for LGBT+ people received oral evidence from a range of expert witnesses, including policy makers, service providers, LGBT+ people, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Minister for Equalities academics. ODL were asked to provide evidence and we provided written and oral submissions.

Alice Wallace, Opening Doors London’s Director, says: ‘We were pleased to submit evidence and present to the committee. We welcome the report which again highlights the lack of data collection across the NHS and social care systems on the needs of LGBT+, including Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNA). ODL’s leading work on LGBT+ people over 50 and JSNA is nearing completion and our report will be published January 2020.’

The main findings of the report are:

  • That there is not enough understanding from health and social services of the needs of LGBT+ people
  • Too few health and social care providers are not actively thinking about LGBT+ people when they plan their services.
  • LGBT+ people need to be treated equally, but not identically to, other groups
  • It is vital that all local health and social care organisations actively consider the needs of their LGBT+ communities

Throughout the report reference is made to the lack of awareness of the needs of LGBT+ people by frontline staff. This is evidenced by our own staff surveys which we conduct as part of the process in assessing the quality of care and support to older LGBT+ people. The lack of training is seen as one of the main reasons frontline staff are ill-equipped the meet the needs of LGBT+ people. ODL training is targeted at frontline staff and is provided by LGBT+ people over 50 themselves.

The report identifies the overwhelming heterosexual and cisgender default that occurs in health and social care services. In addition to addressing training needs ODL’s ‘Pride in Care’ quality standard addresses organisational change of culture with the aim of a service wide commitment to LGBT+ inclusiveness.

We appreciate the committee once again highlighting the disparities in health and social care experienced by LGBT+ people and the practical recommendations made. We appreciate it may be some time before all local health and social care organisations are LGBT+ inclusive. As the lead organisation working with LGBT+ people over 50 in the UK we will continue to influence change to improve health and social care services to the benefit of all.

Professor Ben Thomas

Research and Policy Officer, Opening Doors London