LGBT+ women face ‘blatant discrimination’ and a ‘surprising level of ignorance’ when accessing healthcare in the UK, a new study has shown.
A review published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found they face negative responses when coming out and are met with barriers when raising complaints.
The research was led by Professor Catherine Meads of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), who examined the experiences of sexual minority women between 2010 and 2018 by analysing numerous studies in different health areas.
One contributor said: ‘They (the receptionist) refused to put down my partner’s name and partner/next of kin, kept saying ‘I’ll just put friend’, I said, no, I want you to put partner and she looked at me all lips pursed and said, ‘I’ll just put friend’.’
One woman, who accompanied her partner who was receiving treatment, said: ‘The locum first ignored my introduction as ‘partner’ and continued to call me ‘friend’ for the rest of the session.’
The study also highlighted a surprising level of ignorance among healthcare staff.
Another person quoted in the study said: ‘I was scheduled for a small bit of surgery and was asked to give a pregnancy test. I pointed out that I was not only a gay woman but also post-op male-to-female trans. The reply was ‘Well, best to be sure’.’
Another person said: ‘I was scheduled for a small bit of surgery and was asked to give a pregnancy test. I pointed out that I was not only a gay woman but also post-op male-to-female trans. The reply was ‘Well, best to be sure’.
The review was the first of its kind and drew on 26 different studies.
Professor Meads said her findings suggests a message of diversity is not filtering down to frontline staff.
She said: ‘Many healthcare staff do not feel they need to know about their patients’ sexuality. However, our research uncovered a worrying lack of knowledge of the issues, unfairness, negativity, and blatant discrimination.
‘These studies found significant barriers to sexual minority women, highlighting the need for explicit and consistent education for healthcare professionals on the issues facing these women.’
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