The United Kingdom has been experiencing difficulty with meeting the increasing demands for transgender care, with nurses warning they are ill-equipped and unprepared due to a lack of training.
Referrals of patients to some gender clinics have risen by as much as 700% in recent years. Though exact data is difficult to find, a July 2016 report by the Guardian suggested there are over 130,000 people in the UK who feel gender incongruent enough to seek medical intervention including cross-sex hormones and surgery (based on data provided by the gender identity charity GIRES). Recent reports find transgender patients regularly face prejudice and a lack of understanding while feeling they are at a persistent disadvantage in being able to access proper health care.
“There appears to be a mismatch between the need for these services and the training given.”
According to a survey of 1,200 Nurses completed by the Royal College of Nursing, 87% felt they did not possess the skills needed to care for rising numbers of transgender patients. Nearly 4 out of 5 nurses claimed they had no training whatsoever with regards to transgender care while only 1% reported their pre-registration training covered it. “There appears to be a mismatch between the need for these services and the training given,” said one nurse who participated in the study. “I think currently there is not enough support and this adds further distress to the experience of this group of patients.” Only 14% said they were equipped to meet the needs of transgender and non-binary children.
The RCN is now asking the Government to ensure that transgender care is introduced at all levels of nursing. Wendy Irwin, the Diversity and Equalities Coordinator at RCN said, “Building both competence and confidence in understanding is key to breaking through stigma, but as this survey shows, support through learning and development is urgently required if we are to provide the care and support trans people need.”