Access to healthcare should be a right for all. Good care should be equal for all. And everyone – irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity - deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
But even in 2021, LGBTQ+ people still face negative attitudes, discrimination and prejudice accessing healthcare.
And, as a result, many avoid seeking treatment because they worry about unequal treatment – and experience poorer outcomes as a result.
Nationally, lack of knowledge or understanding from some healthcare professionals is also reported – with some people concerned about disclosing information to their GP.
Many transgender and non-binary people are waiting years to be seen at NHS gender identity clinics in England. And in the current climate, these waits are even more challenging especially on people’s mental health.
Locally, our Healthwatch receives occasional enquiries about gender identity issues and the very long waiting lists.
We have logged examples of both good and poor practice about how LGBTQ+ people are treated by health and care services – mostly because of assumptions and communication issues.
But we are keen to hear more about LGBTQ+ health experiences across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Help improve services and outcomes
Tell us your experiences of health and care services across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
We anonymise and pass on what you tell us to help the NHS and local care teams understand how they can improve support for and better meet the needs of LGBTQ+ patients.
Get in touch to tell us what works, what doesn’t - and what you need from care in the future.
Mental health problems such as anxiety or depression can affect any of us. But they're more common among people from the LGBTQ+ community.
Stonewall’s LGBT in Britain Health Report (2018) revealed a bleak picture with what it called “alarming” levels of poor mental health.
Those identifying as LGBTQ+ are facing homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, stigma and discrimination, difficult experiences of coming out, social isolation, exclusion and rejection.
Mental health charity Mind says people are more likely to develop problems such as anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, eating problems, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, misusing drugs and alcohol.
The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has adversely affected the LGBTQ+ community even more over the last 12 months – highlighting and exacerbating existing inequalities.
Many are reporting worsening mental health due to increased isolation, living alone or in hostile home environments, gender identity service waiting times and cancelled surgery or treatments.
National health agenda
Nationally, NHS England now has a National Adviser for LGBT Health in the NHS: Dr Michael Brady.
Appointed in 2019, he’s working to tackle health inequalities and improve experiences for LTBTQ+ individuals.
He is also Medical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust and Sexual Health & HIV consultant at Kings College Hospital.
Be counted in the 2021 Census on 21 March
Next month’s Census is really important for LGBTQ+ people because it will collect vital information about the community for key services such as health.
There is very little data about the community across the UK. And for the first time, the Census is asking a new question for over-16s on gender identity as well as clarification on how to answer the sexual orientation question.
The survey takes place every 10 years and gives a snapshot of all the people and households in England and Wales on that day.
All kinds of organisations, from local authorities to charities, use the information to provide services and make including health, transport and education.
If you don’t want others in your household to see your answers, from 1 March you can get in touch with the Census contact centre and ask for an individual questionnaire. Information from these will take precedence over any answers given in the household questionnaire.
Individual copies of the Census form can also be requested online, via field staff and via Census support Centres (including Cambridge, Peterborough, Huntington, and Wisbech).
Local support and advice
Support for LGBTQ+ young people up to the age of 25 and their families across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Plus social groups, activities and resources.
A Cambridgeshire-based LGBTQ group for women who like women, embracing cis, trans and non-binary people. Open to all women within the LGBT+ community. Offering groups, meet ups and regular events (in non Covid times)
Dhiverse is the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough sexual health charity that was originally established in 1986 by a group of friends concerned at the lack of information and support around HIV/AIDS available locally.
It also runs a counselling service is for anyone (including young people) where issues around e.g. sexual health, sexuality, sexual identity, sexual relationships, sexual trauma or HIV are affecting their mental health and wellbeing
Encompass Network Cambridge
Not-for-profit organisation linking, supporting and representing the LGBTQ+ community in Cambridgeshire and surrounding areas, working to promote equality and diversity and eliminate discrimination.
01223 608 118
Cambridge LGBT+ Group
Social events including choir, coffee group, men’s group, women’s group, trans and non-binary group. Outside of the pandemic also organises queer beers and queer coffee. Also other groups can promote their events eg climbing group, queers in shorts (LGBT themed short cinema films).
Friendly and informal transgender and non-binary support and social group based in Cambridge and open to anyone with an interest in transgender issues.
Terrence Higgins Trust
Terrence Higgins Trust in Cambridgeshire offers a wide range of support services, including emotional support, help with accessing HIV testing, treatment advice and counselling.
0808 802 1221 free, confidential helpline, Mon-Fri 10am-8pm
iCaSH (integrated contraception & sexual health) Cambridgeshire
Runs sexual health clinics offering contraception, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, HIV care and treatment or related advice.
0300 300 3030
National support and information
Mermaids supports gender-diverse children and young people until their 20th birthday, as well as their families and professionals involved in their care.
0808 801 0400 helpline open Monday to Friday 9am-9pm
Text chat free 24/7 crisis support - text MERMAIDS to 85258
Childline helps anyone under 19 in the UK with any issue they’re going through.
You can talk about anything and can contact a counsellor for free.
Its website has information and advice for young people about sexuality, gender ID, coming out, bullying and hate crime and discrimination.
Help for your wellbeing and mental health
The LGBT+ helpline
0300 330 0630, open 10am–10pm every day.
Online chat is also available through the homepage
A national, confidential emotional, mental health support helpline for people who identify as Transgender, Agender, Gender Fluid, Non-binary… currently running Mondays and Fridays 8pm to midnight.
0300 330 5468
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Queer Mental Health Service –
Mental health charity providing provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.
0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm, Monday to Friday)
Albert Kennedy Trust
A voluntary organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or living in a hostile environment
A charity supporting LGBTQI Muslims.
Campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people across Britain and abroad.
Information Service FREEPHONE 0800 0502020, lines are open 9:30 - 4:30 Monday to Friday (answerphone available outside these hours)