Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust and supporting lesbian, gay and bisexual service users *
In September 2011 Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust discussed using the new version of Rio (the electronic records system) to record sexual orientation so that the trust could collect monitoring data about the sexual orientation of service users. This was in order to support lesbian, gay and bisexual people’s health needs and so that the trust could plan and design services appropriately. These actions were taken in order to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and to demonstrate compliance with the public sector equality duty.
The trust piloted a monitoring form including all nine protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010 with three teams across the trust and asked for feedback from staff. This identified a lack of confidence amongst staff about asking service users to disclose their sexual orientation. In response the trust secured funding to build an e-learning package for staff. The e-learning covers why monitoring is important, raising awareness of lesbian, gay and bisexual health inequalities, the particular health needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual patients and developing services as positive, welcoming environments for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. There is a particular section on how to ask patients about their sexual orientation sensitively (see Appendix 16).
In early 2012 Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust consulted with peer organisations about support for lesbian, gay and bisexual service users in Adult Learning Disability Services, to help the trust in meeting its obligations under the general duty to eliminate unlawful discrimination and advance equality of opportunity. The consultation received over 100 responses and identified that there was a distinct lack of policies, procedures or good practice examples for lesbian, gay and bisexual people with learning disabilities. In response the trust organised a national conference called ‘Hidden Desires’ in October 2012, attended by over 100 delegates from the health, local authority and voluntary sectors. For the conference poster see Appendix 15.
The trust has followed up this work by working in collaboration with local authority colleagues to draft a policy on supporting lesbian, gay and bisexual people with learning disabilities which it plans to share with other trusts around the country as an example for best practice. The trust is also producing best practice guidance and creating a website with information for health professionals that will also be accessible for service users.
* Review of the public sector equality duty, Call for evidence Stonewall response [April 2013]