Kevin Sell says hi to everybody
This is a new idea – a report on LGBT health campaigning.
On Monday 15th June, four Forum members, including myself, travelled to Scarborough to link up with OLGA (Older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Association) members at a meeting with a representative of the Care Quality Commission. I am glad to say that collectively we gave the CQC person a tough time with regard to LGBT health and social care issues and she left with a great deal to think about.
As one of your co-chairs, a qualified counsellor, and a gay man, who as I advance in age, is likely to make increasing use of health and social care services, you would think I have a right to ask questions.
Apparently not. I am discovering a high level of resistance from health authorities, service providers, regulators, commissioning groups, even LGBT organisations to answering my questions about LGBT health issues. I am frequently ignored, or given sparse or inaccurate information. When it comes to serious health issues such as HIV this is tremendously discouraging, but also a cause for significant concern.
Trying to find out about the quality of HIV services and the experiences of HIV positive people accessing health and social care is amazingly difficult. There is a report published by Healthwatch Kirklees which makes depressing reading (see link below).
I suspect that these bad experiences are far from unusual, but it would appear from my attempts to gather further information, that little is being done to identify the extent of problems, to learn from these bad experiences, and to improve services. You might reasonably think, considering how important it is to encourage people to access sexual health services, that the quality of services would be of prime concern. I could only find 3 inspection reports relating to sexual health services on the Care Quality Commission website and none of these referred to HIV services. I have asked the CQC where I can find information on the quality of HIV services – watch this space!
If anyone wishes to share their experiences (good or bad) as an LGBT person using health and social care services, please do get in touch with me via my email. Any information will be treated in the strictest confidence and can be anonymised if you wish to share it on these pages.
It’s interesting that if you Google The best HIV clinics in the UK you won’t get the information you are looking for. If you Google The best cancer hospitals in the UK you can get information. You can even find a Macmillan report into hospitals failing to provide adequate care for cancer patients. Here is the site – have a look!
You can bet, given the Kirklees Healthwatch report, that there are hospitals and clinics providing inadequate care for HIV patients – but can you find information about it? No!
Even the Terrence Higgins Trust makes no reference to the quality of services and how this might vary according to where you live.
One of the few references I found was a question on i-base, where someone asked, ‘Should I get (HIV) treatment in Manchester or London?’ There were only 3 responses, but one of them said their local clinic was ‘woefully inadequate!!!’ (their exclamation marks!) compared to a clinic in London.