NHS ‘gaslighting’ patients over trans women on female-only wards, nurse claims The Telegraph 05.10.21

The original article is here

NHS trusts are “gaslighting” patients over the inclusion of transgender patients on single-sex wards, a whistle-blower nurse has warned.
Dr Sinead Helyar said that in at least one trust if patients questioned why there was a male-bodied person on a female-only ward, medics had been told to “reiterate … that there are no men present”.

Official NHS trust policy documents also compare patients who ask for single-sex spaces to racists and label them “transphobes”, “offenders” and “perpetrators”, she said.

Staff who raise safeguarding concerns may be threatened with disciplinary action or even criminal charges, according to Dr Helyar, who warned that the NHS is influenced by controversial LGBT charity Stonewall.

She said that in one mental health trust, a male-born patient who identified as a woman had sexually assaulted patients on a female-only ward on two separate admissions, despite staff raising concerns.

The comments come after an investigation by The Telegraph found that guidance from trusts included that sex offenders who self-identified as women could be placed on female-only wards.

Hospitals ‘prioritising transgender patients’

Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, has since vowed to review the policy documents.

Speaking in a personal capacity to a panel organised by parliamentary campaign group Children and Women First at the Conservative Party conference, Dr Helyar said that NHS policy is “formulated and enacted to the detriment of women”.

She said that many trusts, often under the influence of Stonewall, had developed transgender accommodation policies that “have failed to consider the rights and needs of women” and instead of equal treatment “prioritise male transgender patients in the very spaces set out for women”.

Nurses expected to enact these policies have found that they “undermine our ability to advocate for uphold the rights of women patients, safeguard women and importantly, treat them with kindness, honesty and integrity as we are professionally obliged to do”.

She identified a number of documents which, she says, equated female patients questioning the policies with racists and a policy from Greater Glasgow and Clyde which tells nurses to “re-iterate that the ward is indeed female only and that there are no men present”.

“This is the NHS gaslighting women patients,” she said. “In other policies, women patients who ask for wards to be single-sex are described variously as transphobic service users, offenders, perpetrators or those who should be given trans education sessions to improve their attitudes.”

On its website, Stonewall includes Nottinghamshire NHS Trust in its 2017 list of “star performers”.

In what the charity describes as a “best-practice guide” produced by the trust, it advises: “If a female (who was once male and has a past history of sexual assaults on women) needed admission to a female ward then she should be treated as any other patient and a thorough risk assessment be carried out”.

‘Clear safeguarding concerns’

Staff are also told in the document that they “should be very careful” if they are refusing someone who identifies as a woman from a female-only ward, adding: “Just bear in mind you would be in more trouble for denying someone’s rights!”

Dr Helyar said that the policies “compromise nurses and prevent staff from speaking out, even when there are clear safeguarding concerns”. She added: “These are real-world concerns. In one mental health trust, a male who identifies as a woman was placed on a female ward with observation. This patient complained that the observation was discriminatory, and it was removed. “The patient went on to sexually assault two women patients. The same patient was placed on a female ward on a subsequent admission, and each time assaulted women. Staff concerns were ignored.”

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said that their guidance “aims to strike an appropriate balance” and the trust “strives to treat all people in its care and all staff with dignity and respect.”

The spokesman said: “All concerns raised by patients are taken seriously, and if any patient has an issue during their time in our care, we would encourage them to raise it with ward staff.”

A Stonewall spokesperson said: “Trans women should be able to access dignified and high-quality healthcare in the same way as everyone else.
“Inclusive healthcare practices make us all safer and, in 2021, it should not be controversial to ensure that all LGBTQ+ people get the healthcare and support that they deserve.

“At Stonewall, we’ll continue to work with public sector organisations, including NHS trusts to ensure that their LGBTQ+ staff are supported at work.”

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