Female hospital patients’ dignity, privacy, and safety are being “diminished significantly” by the imposition of transgender rights in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), members of the House of Lords have warned.
During discussions on the Health and Care Bill held on Feb. 9, lawmakers of the UK Parliament’s second chamber raised concerns over the impact of “Annex B” of the updated NHS guidance, which states that trans people should be accommodated “according to their presentation: the way they dress, and the name and pronouns they currently use,” rather than their biological sex at birth.
Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, a Conservative peer, argued that the guidance has undermined the provision of single-sex wards.
She said: “Traditionally female patients in the NHS and in private hospitals have been allocated beds in single-sex wards accommodating only women patients.
“Transgenderism, and I speak as a woman, has undermined that provision with the 2019 NHS guidance authorising self-selection of patient gender on arrival in hospitals, something neither enshrined in law nor backed by public demand, and overriding the exemption for hospital services in the 2010 Equalities Act.”
She said previous guarantees given to women had been “blown apart” by hospital trusts following Annex B, which contradicted the guidance on providing same-sex wards.
Her argument was supported by lawmakers from other main parties.
Conservative former minister Lord Blencathra said: “The law is clear. Women have the right to be kept in hospital accommodation only with other women.”
Labour peer Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said: “Surely there is a case now for a government review of the (NHS) guidance.”
Liberal Democrat Lord Clement-Jones said: “Reading Annex B it seems that suddenly we are in a completely different place. The goalposts have been moved and I don’t quite understand who was consulted about Annex B and where we go from here.”
He added: “I was particularly concerned to see that effectively if you classify yourself as non-binary, you can take your choice as to whether you go in a ward of any particular sex.”
In response, health minister Lord Kamall said: “The NHS is committed to meeting its duties under the Equalities Act and as such needs to give due regard to both those whose gender identity is the same as their biological sex at birth as well as those who are not. This means that the rights and needs of women and trans women are equal in law.”
But Lady Nicholson said: “The rights of another group does not supersede the rights of the group that is already there.”
She added: “My contention is that the dignity, the privacy and the safety of women patients which has been fought over for several decades … is now being diminished significantly and their health undermined, their recovery from illness significantly undermined, by the imposition of new rights of others on top of women’s rights.”