Staff should be ‘confident and competent’ in collecting data about patients’ gender identity or sexual orientation to better understand issues facing local LGBTQ+ communities, the NHS Confederation’s Health and Care LGBTQ+ Leaders Network has said.
The network’s report, published on Wednesday (17 February), outlines several recommendations for practices and services to support LGBTQ+ patients during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Staff should be ‘confident and competent’ in recording gender identity and sexual orientation information from service users, the report said, adding that they should ‘commit to reporting this to the NHS Data Set’.
This data should also be separated and considered in isolation to better understand health concerns specific to the local LGBTQ+ community, the report said.
The network added that the way care is ‘commissioned, designed and delivered’ must take into account the varying needs of the LGBTQ+ population to support their health beyond the pandemic.
‘The challenge to service designers, providers and commissioners is to commit to implementing the recommendations below both in short-term recovery and long-term planning, through practical and measurable actions,’ the report said.
The group also named 11 pilot groups which will begin implementing the actions over the coming year, including NHS Surrey Heartlands CCG and a number of NHS foundation trusts.
This will be used to create a framework for other organisations to follow.
Supporting patients and staff
The report also recommended commissioners or health leaders contact and work with local community organisations to ensure services that are being commissioned are appropriate to the local population.
This should be done in addition to consulting LGBTQ+ patients when commissioning or designing targeted interventions to protect patients and young people, it said.
‘Listen and respond to the needs of LGBTQ+ children and young people, particularly around mental health,’ it said. ‘This can avoid entrenched issues translating into long-term mental health conditions in adulthood.’
Managers should also encourage LGBTQ+ staff networks, members of which should be included in decision-making across the service, the report said.
It added that these staff should be supported to deal with exclusion and potential conflict arising when interacting with colleagues or patients.
The network highlighted that ‘there can be a significantly negative impact on LGBTQ+ individuals when appropriate language is not used’, and suggested that colleagues understand how experiences may differ ‘between the L, G, B, T, Q and + identities’.
The six recommendations in full:
- Create visible leadership and confident staff
- Create a strong knowledge base
- Be non-heteronormative and non-cisnormative in everything you do
- Take responsibility for collecting and reporting data
- Listen to your service users
- Proactively seek out partners to co-deliver services.