Steve Barclay last night ordered an urgent investigation into new guidelines that tell NHS staff to treat all patients as gender-neutral.
The Health Secretary demanded answers after learning taxpayers had funded the guide to ‘inclusive communication’.
It instructs doctors and nurses not to use phrases such as ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ or ‘he’ and ‘she’ until a patient has confirmed their gender identity.
It instructs doctors and nurses not to use phrases such as ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ or ‘he’ and ‘she’ until a patient has confirmed their gender identity. And they are told to consider that this may have changed since the individual’s last appointment – even if they see them regularly.
The 16-page document features a foreword by Dr Michael Brady, national adviser for LGBT health at NHS England, who describes it as a ‘must read’ for all health and social care professionals.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay is said to have ‘hit the roof’ over the guide’s contents which doctors and nurses not to use terms like ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ or ‘he’ and ‘she’ until a patient confirms their gender identity
A segment of the NHS guidelines tells staff to avoid using the pronouns associated with the sex the patient was ‘assigned at birth’
It has been produced by researchers who received a £164,964 government grant to study how clinicians could improve their communication with LGBT patients and present their findings as ‘evidence-based guidance’ for them to follow.
Critics questioned why civil servants had considered it a better use of funds than providing more operations or ambulances.
The Department of Health warned that removing gendered language risked ‘unintended adverse health consequences’.
A source close to Mr Barclay, who is said to have ‘hit the roof’ after the guide was unearthed by the Mail, revealed he had launched an investigation into the spending, adding: ‘Taxpayers’ money needs to be invested in fixing the NHS so it can provide better care for patients, not squandered on woke pamphlets.’
The National Institute for Health and Care Research, which bankrolled the research and guidance, is one of the UK’s largest funders of health and care research and is funded directly by the Department of Health and Social Care.
It is headed by the Department’s chief scientific advisor and tasked with funding research that makes the health and social care system more ‘efficient, effective and safe’.
Doctors are expected to keep up to date with its published findings.
Findings are published on its website and in academic journals, which doctors are expected to read to keep on top of new developments in their field.
The NIHR website shows it made a grant to researchers at King’s College London for the inclusive communications study, which started in June 2018.
Its findings were published in the academic journal BMJ Quality & Safety earlier this month and the resulting guidelines released this week.
The guide gives doctors example sentences and questions they could use to raise the issue of gender identity and sexual orientation during appointments and advises them to do it ‘early in your interaction with a patient’.
Suggestions include: ‘Can I ask if you have any important people in your life?… And would you mind sharing your sexual orientation?’ Another says: ‘So I refer to you correctly, can I ask what your pronouns are?’
Another part of document warns medics that using the incorrect pronouns for a patient may be ‘unlawful’ and cause distress
Staff are also urged to be hyperaware of their expressions and body language when LGBT+ people share information about themselves
The guide was produced by researchers who received a £164,964 government grant to study how clinicians could improve their communication with LGBT patients
The guidance tells readers: ‘Use neutral language, until sure. When talking to patients, there are some aspects of language that can make people who identify as LGBT+ feel included or excluded.
‘Choosing words and phrases that don’t make assumptions about sexual orientation or gender identity creates a more supportive environment for individuals to be themselves.’
It says staff should keep a straight face and constant tone of voice when quizzing patients about their sexual orientation or gender.
And they should practice with a ‘trusted colleague’ if they are concerned they may struggle to conceal their surprise at some answers, it adds.
In the foreword to the document, NHS LGBT tsar Dr Brady declares: ‘This evidence-based guide gives simple and practical tips that we can all use such as using neutral language… and ensuring we don’t make assumptions about sexual orientation or gender identity.
‘This guide should be a “must read” for all health and social care professionals. I would encourage everyone to use them and reflect on how we can continue to improve the quality of care we provide and ensure it is truly inclusive for all LGBT+ people.’
‘This guide should be a “must read” for all health and social care professionals.
‘I would encourage everyone to use them and reflect on how we can continue to improve the quality of care we provide and ensure it is truly inclusive for all LGBT+ people.’
Controversial campaign group Stonewall has written an introduction to the guide, which it describes as ‘exemplary’, and adds: ‘We hope that these guidelines will be shared widely throughout the sector.’
Here are some examples of the woke language changes that have engulfed NHS communications. Some of these examples have been taken from national NHS communications while others are used by individual hospitals
In a new crackdown on ‘harmful terminology’ in science, members of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Language Project – founded by scientists in the US and Canada – have published a list of the ‘top 24 harmful terms’ used in science
WHAT THE GUIDE SAYS
ADVICE TO DOCTORS
- Use neutral language, until sure.
- Whether you are meeting them [patients] for the first time, or even if you have known a patient for a long time, always using language that is inclusive, and does not make assumptions.
- The labels people use to describe themselves are important, and often carefully chosen. For example, if patient describes themselves as “gay”, do not change this to “homosexual” or “lesbian”, as this may mean something different. Or if a patient describes themselves as “non- binary” or “genderqueer”, do not change this to “trans”.
- When LGBT+ people share information about sexual orientation, gender identity or gender history, some have experienced disapproving expressions from professionals. Holding your neutral expression… helps to reassure patients and their significant others.
- The tone and volume of your words communicate a lot. For example, emphasising words through tone or increased volume can indicate surprise, while an increased pitch can communicate nervousness. When patients share information about their sexual orientation, gender identity of gender history, intonation and volume is important… as showing surprise is stigmatising.
- If you are worried that you might have any of these reactions, practice talking about sexual orientation, gender identity and gender history with a colleague you trust.
- So I refer to you correctly, can I ask what your pronouns are?
- Can I ask if you have any important people in your life? And would you mind sharing your sexual orientation?
- It is important for us to understand who you are, what matters to you, and who is important to you, in order for us to provide the best care we can. This includes understanding about your sexual orientation and your gender identity. I would like to speak with you about these topics. I do this with all of the patients I care for, as understanding these aspects of your life may enable me and the team to support you, and any significant people in your life, better.
Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis said: ‘How civil servants thought this is more important than sorting the NHS backlog and improving ambulance response times, is beyond me.’
Fellow Tory MP Craig Mackinlay said: ‘To hear that funding, better spent on frontline NHS services in England, is still being allocated to such matters is beyond troubling.
‘I’m not surprised the Health Secretary is outraged. With other parts of Whitehall pursuing similar this has to be a watershed moment for a significant clear-out and reset across the entirety of government as the silent majority are tired of their taxpayer pounds being spent on such a minority interest.’
The Free Speech Union highlighted separate guidance recently issued by the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that tells staff they could face disciplinary action and prosecution for ‘hate crime’ if they fail to use a trans person’s preferred pronoun do so with ‘malicious intent’.
They may be in the form of ‘He’ or ‘She’ but might also include gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘Ze’ or ‘They’, it said.
Asking to see a Gender Recognition Certificate – the document that legally recognises a person’s chosen gender – could be seen as harassment and ‘may also constitute a criminal offence’, it warned.
Commenting on the national guide, Toby Young, founder of the Free Speech Union, said: ‘This new guidance will make things much worse.
‘The NHS staff who reach out to us are terrified about speaking out against the trans ideology that has completely captured the health service.’
Dr Mike Jones of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘With the health service on its knees, this is an inexcusable waste of time and money.’
An NHS spokesman said: ‘While this is a Government and NIHR report, the NHS is committed to improving access, experience and outcomes for LGBT+ communities and this guide seeks to support healthcare professionals with doing that.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘This guide has not been endorsed by the Government.
‘We have been clear that removing language around biological sex has the potential for unintended adverse health consequences.
‘The guide was produced as part of a wider piece of research that was funded in 2018 by the National Institute for Health and Care Research to improve communication between clinicians and LGBT patients with serious illness.’
Sajid Javid vowed to crack down on ‘waste and wokery’ in the NHS, including the proliferation of ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ managers, during his stint as Health Secretary last summer.
The health service has also come under fire for removing the word ‘women’ from its advice pages on the menopause and ovarian and womb cancer.