NHS Trusts are putting transgender rights before women’s safety, a Peer has said.
Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, writing for The Daily Mail, has argued that NHS policies designed to cater for men who identify as women have resulted in horrifying consequences for female patients.
This week, The Daily Telegraph reported that a number of NHS Trusts in England now advise that patients be admitted to hospital wards on the basis of their self-declared gender.
Lady Nicholson said: “Without consultation — and in my opinion, in defiance of the law — NHS Trusts across the country have issued guidance saying patients should be accommodated based on the gender they say they identify with.
“This means they can pick which ward, toilets and shower facilities they use.”
As a consequence, she stated, female patients “have understandably been left distraught, forced to share some of their most intimate and vulnerable moments alongside a member of the opposite sex”.
Unfortunately, the Peer continued, a good number of those “who have expressed discomfort at this turn of events — be they patients or nursing staff — have been accused of transphobia and hate crime. Some nurses have lost their jobs”.
Reflecting on years of campaigning to secure single-sex spaces in hospitals, Lady Nicholson said: “Sadly, what is happening in wards up and down the country is that that very basic respect for a patient’s rights is being overturned.”
NHS chiefs, she said, in their “haste to assert the primacy of ‘Self-Identification’”, have “knowingly distorted the equality laws that Parliament has passed”. And, she added, “it is women who are paying the price”.
The Peer cited worrying evidence gathered by Parliamentary colleagues “from patients and medics on the impact of the deviation from single-sex spaces”.
Lady Nicholson said: “In hundreds of emails and hours of personal testimony, we have heard cases ranging from dementia patients distressed at waking up next to someone who, in their mind, looks like a man, to reports of a rape on a psychiatric unit undertaken by a biological male who identified as a woman.”
Aware of the likely backlash to her foray into “the whirlpool of transgender issues”, the Baroness remained undaunted. What matters more, she said, was finding “a way of protecting the vulnerable”.
Lady Nicholson concluded: “In my work around the globe, I have always cited the country of my birth as a shining example of a nation which upholds the rights of women, and our NHS as a beacon of health care provision.
“However, the scandal that is unfolding in our single-sex wards has led me to conclude that neither of these proclamations remains true.”