18 / 04 / 2009
North West Strategic Health Authority
NHS Sefton serves a population of around 277,000 by securing NHS services on behalf of local people and directly providing a wide range of community health services. The trust employs 1,509 staff.
The trust works in partnership with many key stakeholders including Sefton Equalities Partnership as part of new approach to equality and diversity in the borough.
The trust became members of the Sefton Equalities Partnership and the InTrust Network that was set up by the partnership, to support men and women with intersex or transgender history.
The trust was aware of growing research that indicated trans people often experience harassment from fellow employees, customers or clients in the form of verbal abuse and physical violence as well as discrimination in recruitment, promotion and remuneration at work.
For some, their experience is good. Around 21 per cent of trans people seek help from a GP to begin the process of obtaining gender reassignment surgery (GRS) or other relevant services.
However, research also shows that another 21 per cent of respondents’ GPs either did not want to help or refused to help.
The trust therefore used its volunteer scheme to attract trans people to work for the trust, providing them the opportunity to contribute to the organisation and the communities it serves.
- Transgender volunteer project – this project was set up in conjunction with InTrust Community Empowerment Network to support trans people in accessing the work environment
- Ensured that trans people felt supported and valued as employees – prior to the project, human resources worked closely with experts to embed gender identity within existing policies and procedures and instigate the concept of co-working to ensure the ‘transgender perspective’ was considered.
- Raised staff awareness through presentations and training on a variety of issues eg. gender transition related workplace absence and securing privacy of transgender personnel records.
- Removed barriers to recruitment/retention of trans staff – the trust understood there was no obligation for a trans person to disclose their status as a condition of employment and that questioning an applicant about this could be unlawful discrimination. The trust also took into account that some interviewees may choose to disclose their transgender status and if they do, the issue should be handled with the same sensitivity as any other personal disclosure
- Criminal records process – the trust realised that conventional CRB application forms require details to be completed that would automatically reveal the birth sex of a transgender applicant. It therefore used the CRB process especially for transgender applicants, enabling them to leave such details off their application form, provided they were sent straight away to a special secure address within the bureau
- The trust, as part of the Sefton Equalities Partnership and the InTrust Network, received the North West Employers Award 2008 in recognition of its work around transgender issues
- There is evidence that the trust promotes and maintains a culture of respect for the dignity of individuals and difference
- Appropriate protocols for managing sensitive and confidential information about a person's transgender status have been tested by a volunteer in the Transgender Volunteer Project and has had positive feedback
- Evidence indicates that the volunteering programme empowers volunteers to develop their potential and helps them with the process of the Real Life Test required for psychiatric assessment
- The trust realised the value of showing trans people as a positive part of the workforce
- The trust has had an increase in referrals to health bodies from the trans community
As a result, the trust is now:
- Reviewing the evidence that access to good healthcare for trans people is sporadic and the implications in terms of employment and service delivery
- Doing more transgender awareness raising and training for staff and those working in HR. Research finds that high numbers of trans people (38 per cent of our sample) fall outside of the legal definition of ‘transsexual’ and are not offered that legal protection
- Considering education and leaflet guidance for healthcare staff on how to work with trans patients on issues of dignity, particularly the right to be treated as a member of their new gender and privacy obligations
- Continuing to build on the Volunteer Scheme and work towards greater transgender representation within the paid workforce
Linda Douglas, diversity lead, NHS Sefton
Telephone 0151 920 5056 ext 311
Tony Griffin, lead officer – gender, Sefton Equalities Partnership
Telephone 0151 928 2233 ext 306