The Health Secretary has told the UK’s healthcare watchdog that it must not erase women by using and promoting gender neutral language.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) latest style guide pushed medical professionals to use phrases such as “pregnant women and pregnant people”. The watchdog also told them to avoid referring to “women” when speaking about endometriosis, or “men” when discussing prostate cancer.
In light of the reports, Steve Barclay MP asked NICE’s Chief Executive Dr Sam Roberts “to review their style guide”.
A source stated: “The Health Secretary has reminded Nice of the Government’s guidance that women must be properly represented in communications from the NHS and other health organisations.
“He takes this stuff very seriously and doesn’t want to see women or men, for that matter, scrubbed out of communications.”
Dr Louise Irvine, of the Clinical Advisory Group on Sex and Gender, said: “Abandoning sex and instead using ideological concepts, such as gender identity, is not a sound basis for communication tasked to support the health of the nation.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman responded: “The Government has been clear that biology matters, there are different health needs between the sexes, and that we must not endorse the erasure of women from our public discourse or our legislation.”
Last month, over 1,000 clinicians urged the NHS to restore the word ‘woman’ in online guidance on pregnancy and cancer.
In a letter signed by 1,200 doctors, nurses and health practitioners, they said the attempt to replace sex-specific language with gender-neutral terms is “discriminatory and could leave the NHS open to legal challenge”.
The signatories included four ex-NHS trust executives, the former President of the Royal College of Nursing, and the former assistant Children’s Commissioner for Wales.