This trans-led interaction represented a number of firsts for us. It was our first ever meet-up with healthcare professionals, as well as our first official visit to Leeds. We were working with a number of fantastic organisations on this interaction, including Action for Trans Health, Gendered Intelligence Leeds, Mermaids, The Proud Trust and Rainbow Noir. It was great to have independent trainers, students and creatives on board too. Altogether, a very exciting day for All About Trans!
“I think it’s really interesting to be in a space with a diverse group of trans people of different ages, experiences and points in their transition journey, and to talk about that.” Emma, All About Trans interaction team member
The trans and non-binary interaction team were meeting staff from NHS England. The interaction’s aim was to bring about a better understanding of trans peoples’ experiences when accessing healthcare. A small, limited number of healthcare themed trans-led meet ups will take place until February 2017 with media and healthcare organisations in England, Scotland and Wales.
Everyone was enthusiastic and a little apprehensive about sitting down with a large group of NHS England staff at their Leeds headquarters. Led by co-facilitators Sophie Green and Ashleigh Talbot, the interaction began with a roundtable introduction and sharing of pronouns.
In the room were Patient and Public Participation Managers and Training Leads (who meet patients, gather feedback and select which training is needed in England). There were also Complaints Managers and Case Officers from the Customer Contact Centre, who speak to the public about various enquiries.
After the participants had got to know each other, the group discussed two questions in particular: what challenges may trans people face when accessing healthcare and how can the healthcare system improve to be more trans inclusive in general? The trans and non-binary group shared their experiences and asked what could be done to better support the community. By the end of the two hour session, the group had some interesting thoughts and possible action points to take forward.
Learning for the Customer Contact Centre
A number of Case Officers in the Customer Contact Centre said their understanding of trans experiences in healthcare had improved as a result of talking to the group. Often, staff think of trans patients only as adults, but conversations with younger trans and non-binary volunteers soon highlighted that this isn’t always the case, and having a group of different ages helped make this point.
The group also explained why it’s frustrating for a patient to have their birth name or wrong gender on the system, or be referred to by the wrong pronoun, such as he, she or they. Volunteers encouraged Case Officers to continue to humanise the callers and see past their screens to the individual behind them. The Complaints team and Case Officers said they would be sure to take learning back to their other colleagues at the Customer Contact Centre.
Creating “Trans Champions”
One of the Patient and Public Participation team who had been paired in a conversation with a child and mum from Mermaids charity, suggested creating “Trans Champions”. A Champion is a person who can promote understanding and give advice to colleagues about a specific area. This would be someone who has full knowledge of the community and the ability to educate others and offer support to all – not just healthcare professionals, but across the whole organisation.
“The biggest thing that I’ve learnt from today is about respecting everybody as an individual and what I’m taking away more than anything is a responsibility. We all have a responsibility, both as individuals and as organisations to educate each other.” Wayne Kirkham, Patient and Public Participation Manager
Training for NHS England staff
The Patient and Public Participation Training team support NHS England staff to develop their skills in patient and public participation. They agreed to see if transgender awareness training and support for NHS England staff could take place and will be exploring this in the future.
The volunteers came away from the interaction excited to see how the group’s proposed solutions could be implemented. They offered training, advice and opportunities to keep in touch. Angela Medd, Patient and Partnerships Project Manager, is supporting the NHS participants to develop their suggestions and ideas. She has also worked with us on a second interaction with a small group of staff from the NHS in London. We’re looking forward to seeing what these thoughts and discussions could lead to!