17 February 2017

Making our way to Merthyr Tydfil – an interaction with NHS staff in Wales

As 2016 drew to a close, All About Trans’ interaction teams showed no signs of slowing down. Early December saw a small group of trans and non-binary people meet with the Cwm Taf trust in Merthyr Tydfil, an hour’s drive away from Cardiff. This was the fourth meet-up with healthcare professionals since August 2016, and it took place to improve understanding of trans people’s experience of healthcare. Interaction teams had already met with NHS England in Leeds and London and with the General Medical Council.

Chats in small groups

The day began over a cup of coffee in a local café, with interaction team members from Trans*Form Cymru, Stonewall Cymru, Wipe Out Transphobia and individuals from across Wales getting to know one another. Jayne Rowlands, facilitating the session, got everyone talking about what they wanted to get out of the day. Without much further ado, the group then headed to the Prince Charles Hospital, the venue for the interaction.

Sharing and learning

NHS staff attending came from community mental health teams, crisis teams, including consultant psychologists and social workers. Each person shared their experiences of working with trans people and expressed how helpful the interaction had been in improving their understanding. Staff were eager to pass learning on to their colleagues and asked if they could call on the All About Trans participants for advice in the future.

“I don’t think I could replace the experience of being here – asking the team questions and listening to powerful messages.”  Robert Thomas, Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team

Getting to know one another

Many of the NHS members wanted to seek training following the interaction. The team were happy to suggest support here, and agreed to look into training specifically around older trans people – something that one NHS participant pointed out is currently lacking. A Stonewall Cymru representative recommended useful resources, including a glossary of LGBT terms in English and in Welsh and practical guides on trans inclusion in the workplace.

Learning in universities

There was also potential for training outside of the NHS, as the group were joined by a student nurse. The student was eager to ask participants or local organisations to give a talk to the lecturers and students about trans healthcare. They hadn’t received any training on this topic yet, and wanted fellow students to gain a better understanding on trans matters.

“Everyone in the NHS works unbelievably hard…so I fully respect every single one of you guys for taking time out to come and talk to us today. It’s really nice that everyone is going to try and help out.  It reaffirms my faith in humanity.” Billy, All About Trans interaction team member

Trans healthcare in Wales

Don’t assume!

Everyone firmly agreed to continue working to Cwm Taf’s values, and key learning was seeing each person as an individual, being respectful and understanding the need to never assume or make presumptions. The participants understood why it’s vitally important to double check trans patients’ names and pronouns, as healthcare notes or databases may not have been updated correctly.

As the two hour interaction wrapped up, the interaction team said goodbye to the NHS staff and promised to keep in touch. They came away from the interaction commenting on the level of engagement and eagerness of the NHS staff to learn.

It was great to return to Wales, and All About Trans looks forward to coming back again soon!

All About Trans