The case for active inclusivity: Why inclusivity training requires an ongoing commitment
It may surprise some to know that in the UK, gender dysphoria and gender identity issues are not part of the GP curriculum or GP Specialty Training, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training is incorporated into many NHS roles as a one-off requirement, rather than ongoing training that can be updated and revised based on new developments.
You may believe that the situation for providing clinical care to LGBTQ+ people is largely unchanged- that there are no regular major advances that could dictate a need for training to be an ongoing annual (or at least biannual) commitment. It may surprise you, then, to take a hard look at the current situation for LGBTQ+ people in the UK and consider whether one-off inclusivity training is indeed enough to start to overcome what may seem insurmountable challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community.
At Oakley Coaching, our aim is to support clinicians to become part of the solution, not part of the problem.
The latest Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of LGBTI people in the UK (January to December 2021) has just been released. (Read it here) Whilst it’s nice to think the UK is doing well in terms of how we care for our LGBTQ+ population, this report highlights that there are still a number of areas where we are definitely not scoring top marks.
For example, “a study conducted with 13 families with trans and gender-non-conforming children in England affirmed that families struggle with lengthy waiting lists, geographical inaccessibility, and a lack of knowledge from clinicians who also fail to value family expertise.”
It’s hard to accept we still have First Contact practitioners within the UK who do not have specific knowledge to provide the care their patients required. The Royal College of General Practitioners recognises that “GPs are most often the first point of contact with the health care system for individuals questioning their gender. In some cases, GPs can be the first people they confide in about their gender identity or uncertainties about their gender identity.“
Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Physiotherapists, and in fact most people working in private practice have the luxury of longer appointment times, and more opportunities to build strong working relationships with their patients as a result. As a Chiropractor, it was not uncommon for patients to confide in me, sharing fears, worries, anxieties and concerns, and so I had to be confident in my ability to support and signpost these patients to appropriate care. As such, the need for specialist training extends beyond just GP’s, and we recommend LGBTQ+ inclusivity training as a prerequisite for all practitioners working in patient-facing roles.
Staying current with inclusivity training
We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again. We want to ensure we’re part of the solution, not part of the problem. That’s why we’re working to train clinicians with the latest guidance and understanding of supporting LGBTQ+ people in terms of their specialist health needs, the approach our care needs to take for this population, and what more we need to do to support them and ensure we create safe healthcare spaces with clinicians who are equipped with the specialist knowledge needed.
Sadly, in many larger organisations, LGBTQ+ inclusivity training is included as part of a wider Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity training package and is often not specific enough to be recognised by participants as LGBTQ+ inclusivity training. For example, recent surveys of NHS Trusts found that only 25% of non-LGBT staff (n=1872) and 30% of LGBT staff (n=720) reported having had training, whereas the figure reported by the Trust itself was much higher. This discrepancy begins to highlight the issue with inclusivity training not being given the platform it needs. Sadly, EDI training is also considered a one-off requirement. Quite literally relegated to a tick box on a form, as seen below on the competency requirements for an NHS role.
Consider the changes we could see in the field of LGBTQ+ healthcare in just a 12 month period. The changes in legislation. The changes in the political landscape (which sadly can have an impact on healthcare). The changes in surgical techniques, in drug advances, in best practice.
… and of course, there will be ongoing aftershocks and changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as already lengthy waiting lists now being even longer.
It is simply not possible for a topic as important as EDI, and in particular LGBTQ+ inclusivity, to be covered as a one-off requirement, which can lead many practitioners and non-clinical staff operating with significantly out-of-date knowledge yet still having ticked that box on their competency requirements.
We believe the solution lies in organisations and individuals making an ongoing commitment to ‘active inclusivity’. Recognising that this is a changing landscape that requires us to keep abreast of new developments, best practice recommendations and more. It is for this reason that participants on our clinical LGBTQ+ course receive lifetime access so that they can ensure that their knowledge and understanding of LGBTQ+ inclusivity remains current.
Find out more about our LGBTQ+ inclusivity consultancy services here.