fbpx

Fact check: What is NHS policy on trans patients in single-sex wards?

Sir Keir Starmer claimed during a phone-in interview that NHS policy was not to treat trans patients identifying as female on women’s wards.

During a phone-in interview on LBC on June 18, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was asked about the party’s policy on protecting “single-sex spaces for women and girls while at the same time making it easier for people to get a Gender Recognition Certificate” (GRC) – a document which allows someone to change their legally recognised gender.

As part of Sir Keir’s reply he said: “It’s actually NHS policy for wards to be single-sex and the only reason that isn’t routinely the case now is because the Government’s lost control of our hospitals, but that is the policy and we want to reinforce and to protect that.”

LBC host Nick Ferrari asked: “So if I was identifying as a woman and I went to my NHS hospital, would I be allowed to be on a woman’s ward?”

Sir Keir: “No. It’s a single-sex ward. That is the NHS policy.”

Mr Ferrari: “If I had my Gender Recognition Certificate I’d be allowed on a woman’s ward?”

Sir Keir: “You would be accommodated, but not on a woman’s ward. Hospitals already do this, there are ways that this can be done, lots of wards have side rooms and that sort of thing… The rule about single-sex wards, or the policy, is already there.”

Evaluation

Under current NHS guidance, transgender patients are entitled to be accommodated in single-sex wards that match how they identify. A GRC is not required for the individual decision-making process by healthcare professionals.

However, a review of the NHS constitution is under way and includes a revision of policy for transgender patients.

The facts

Current NHS England guidance on this issue is laid out in a document from September 2019 titled Delivering Same-sex Accommodation.

It makes clear its provisions are based on the Equality Act 2010, which regards gender reassignment as a protected characteristic.

The document says: “This guidance clearly states that trans and non-binary people should be accommodated in line with their stated gender identity.”

It is also clear that the patient “does not need to have had, or be planning, any medical gender reassignment” to qualify for these legal protections.

Furthermore, the document states that when accommodating transgender patients according to their own presentation, “it does not depend on having a gender recognition certificate or legal name change”.

Sir Keir mentioned that hospitals sometimes deal with trans patients in “side rooms”, which the document mentions as a potential way to ensure “sufficient privacy”, alongside the use of curtains around individual beds in a ward.

But it makes clear this is for “special circumstances”, rather than the default policy.

The document also recognises that there may be “justified breaches” to the guidance, and that “special circumstances” may also affect the placement of a trans patient.

The rules around same-sex wards in the NHS could be changing soon, because the NHS Constitution is undergoing a consultation, as mandated by the Health Act 2009 to be held at least once every 10 years.

Included in the proposed changes is adding a provision that patients will not have to share accommodation with “patients of the opposite biological sex” – and therefore using, for example, “a single room” for transgender patients as “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.

The Labour Party was contacted ahead of publication.

Links

YouTube video clip of Labour leader Keir Starmer with Nick Ferrari on LBC (archived clip of the relevant section)

NHS: Delivering same-sex accommodation (archived)

Equality Act 2010, Section 7 – legislation.gov.uk (archived)

Health Act 2009, Section 3 – legislation.gov.uk (archived)

NHS Constitution: 10 year review – gov.uk (archived)

Election Check 24

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition

News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.