Health staff told to call pa­tients ‘they’

Scottish Daily Mail - - Labour’s Day Of Shame - By Kate Fos­ter Scot­tish Health Edi­tor

HEALTH bosses are be­ing told to re­fer to staff and pa­tients as ‘they’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’ to avoid of­fend­ing trans­gen­der peo­ple.

Cour­ses of­fered by NHS Loth­ian, in tan­dem with the Scot­tish Trans Al­liance and LGBT Health and Well­be­ing, en­cour­aged staff to use gen­der-neu­tral pro­nouns at home and work to try to get used to them.

The aim is to en­able staff to sup­port trans­gen­der pa­tients, by us­ing the cor­rect form of ad­dress.

But staff have raised con­cerns that the train­ing goes fur­ther than that and en­cour­ages peo­ple to change the lan­guage they use in their per­sonal lives so it be­comes more ‘nat­u­ral’.

Among tips for sup­port­ing trans­gen­der pa­tients, staff are ad­vised: ‘Don’t as­sume you know which pro­nouns and ti­tles peo­ple pre­fer – ask what they pre­fer’; and ‘think about how you call for peo­ple in wait­ing rooms – en­sure that you don’t ac­ci­den­tally use old names or ti­tles’.

A source at NHS Loth­ian who at­tended an hour-long ses­sion said: ‘They were telling us to re­fer to each other us­ing the term “they”. If we started us­ing “they” in our per­sonal lives it would be­come nat­u­ral when we go into the work­place.’

The man­ager said she was wor­ried about of­fend­ing older pa­tients by not re­fer­ring to them as Mr or Mrs.

She added: ‘I asked [the course leader] whether this could be an is­sue with el­derly pa­tients if I was re­fer­ring to them as “they”. They may feel that their dig­nity has been com­pro­mised, which goes against our core val­ues of safety, dig­nity and re­spect. They couldn’t an­swer.’

Scot­tish Trans Al­liance man­ager James Mor­ton did not re­spond to in­quiries yes­ter­day but told The Times its staff mem­ber who co-fa­cil­i­tated the NHS Loth­ian train­ing ses­sion did not give the ad­vice on pro­nouns.

LGBT Health and Well­be­ing did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Ali­son McCal­lum, di­rec­tor of pub­lic health and pub­lic pol­icy at NHS Loth­ian, said: ‘NHS Loth­ian is com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing equal­ity, di­ver­sity and hu­man rights. A se­ries of trans­gen­der aware­ness work­shops was held for staff in De­cem­ber 2017 to pro­mote good work­ing prac­tice and also to re­mind them to be mind­ful and re­spect­ful of their pa­tients and col­leagues.

‘Learn­ing out­comes in­cluded ex­plor­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate terms and def­i­ni­tions re­lat­ing to trans­gen­der and non-bi­nary peo­ple, in­clud­ing the use of non-bi­nary pro­nouns.’

A spokesman for women’s rights cam­paign group for­women.scot said: ‘We be­lieve many pa­tients will find this in­sult­ing and de­hu­man­is­ing. We are wor­ried the drive to en­cour­age a cul­ture of gen­der neu­tral­ity in medicine will have ad­verse ef­fects.

‘So many con­di­tions present dif­fer­ently de­pend­ing on the pa­tient’s bi­o­log­i­cal sex. Doc­tors need to be able to treat the body of the pa­tient and not worry about val­i­dat­ing iden­tity.’

‘In­sult­ing and de­hu­man­is­ing’

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