Gay charity and NHS launch campaign to ensure mainstream services are welcoming

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The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) in partnership with NHS North West are distributing posters and leaflets for display in GPs surgeries across Manchester, to ensure lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people have increased access to appropriate services and to make mainstream services more accessible to LGB people.

The posters highlight the LGF’s “We’re Here If You Need Us” campaign, and signpost people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual to the LGF for services and support.

Research highlights the need for this campaign to help raise awareness of services and encourage people to access them, as LGB people are less likely to use mainstream health services because of actual or perceived discrimination and prejudices, and are more likely to experience health inequalities than their heterosexual peers.

Figures show that 1 in 10 LGB&T individuals have avoided using public services for fear of homophobia, and 1 in 5 health care professionals have admitted to being homophobic.*

Also, LGB people are more likely to experience mental health issues, sexual health concerns, problems with substance misuse, social isolation, discrimination and hate crime.

It is therefore essential that the needs of LGB people are considered in helping to overcome these health inequalities.

Paul Martin, Chief Executive of The Lesbian & Gay Foundation highlights the importance of this work: “These posters are a very simple, but powerful way of making lesbian, gay and bisexual people aware of the services that are available to support them, and to visibly highlight that mainstream services are safe, welcoming and accessible regardless of sexual orientation.”

“People have already reported that seeing the poster in their surgery has made them feel more open about disclosing their sexuality to health professionals, which has meant more accurate information has been given early on resulting in a more positive experience of services without fear of prejudice or discrimination.”

Shahnaz Ali, associate director for equality, diversity and human rights at NHS North West says: “The new NHS White Paper reminds everyone of the role that GPs have to play in acting as gateways to a wider variety of services than has hitherto been provided in the NHS alone. GPs are responsible for the health of all of their patients and this includes the significant percentage who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. It’s estimated that the number of LGB&T people in the North West is equivalent to the population of Liverpool.

The LGF which is celebrating its 10th anniversary is an excellent example of a voluntary service organisation with whom the NHS can do business, and we expect that this joint project will demonstrate the value of this kind of partnership working.”

Under current legislation, all NHS surgeries have an obligation to be fully accessible to LGB people. Equality legislation means that GPs must treat LGB people equally, and with dignity and respect. This poster campaign is just one way of providing an affirmative and welcoming environment, and to visibly demonstrate this commitment to meeting LGB people’s needs.

The posters will be distributed to 108 surgeries across Manchester, and to two rural practices in the North West.