NHS lets trans sex offenders on female wards

NHS lets trans sex offenders on female wards

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) is allowing male-born sex offenders who self-identify as women to be placed on female-only wards, sparking fears over patient safety.

Devon, Oxford and Notts Healthcare Trust informed staff a criminal history should be part of a risk assessment when placing male-born people on female-only wards, but they do not say if it is a bar to admission.

Several NHS Trusts have issued guidance stating patients in hospitals should be admitted based on the gender they identify with and therefore can choose which ward, toilet or shower facilities they use, The Telegraph has reported. Oxford Health NHS Foundation says in guidance the “risk of sexual offending in a trans context is very rare”.

They added where there was “significant risk” staff would “apply the same robust mitigation that we would to a non-trans patient to ensure a safe therapeutic environment”.

Oxford states that “if the service user has a sex-offending history, risk should be managed in the same way as it would be with any other client, irrespective of gender”.

It insists its guidance “follows the legal parameters” and “sets out that every case is individually assessed, taking into account risk factors to the patient as well as other ward users”.

Devon Partnership NHS Trust says its hospital patients “will be admitted based on the gender which they identify as at the point of admission” as opposed to it being based on physical characteristics or the person proving they have legally changed their gender or name.

The trust states it is a requirement for risk assessments to be carried out but add this does not stop male-born sex offenders being placed on a female-only ward.

The guidance says: “Where a transgender woman is admitted and has a history of sex offending, decisions regarding risk should include consideration of whether they are being prescribed anti-libidinal medication that would be expected to reduce sexual risk."

It added: “Transgender people must be able to use the facilities of their preferred gender while admitted. This includes shower rooms, toilets and single sex lounges.”

The documents also says “there may be occasions where it is lawful to refuse access to single-sex facilities, but only if this is justified and is proportionate against a legitimate outcome".

A spokesman for Devon Partnership NHS Trust acknowledged it is a "sensitive issue" and they are reviewing the policy to ensure “the safety of our patients and staff”.

The guidance from Notts Healthcare Trust states when making a decision on the treatment setting, “previous history of sexual offending and/or domestic violence or abuse should be taken into account”.

A spokesman for the trust said: “All our staff follow guidance to ensure the safety and dignity of our patients in line with Government legislation, including carrying out a risk assessment to ensure they are given appropriate care.”

Dr Jane Hamlin, president of the Beaumont Society, a trans support group, said: “If anyone starts off with an assumption that a trans person is a sex offender - or even a potential sex offender - that is discrimination and transphobia. All patients, including trans people, should feel safe when in hospital.”

But the policies have been implemented despite the Department of Health insisting hospitals have to provide single-sex wards.

There are increasing fears among medical staff the guidance documents will see them breach their code of conduct.

One nurse told The Telegraph: “In-patients are often frail, elderly and confused and we as nurses have a duty to protect them.

“They are not being safeguarded and they are not getting the dignity and the privacy they deserve.

“The public believe that we have single-sex spaces for our most vulnerable, our mothers, our grandmothers, but it is simply not true. NHS wards are replicating what is happening in jails.”

An NHS spokesman said: “Hospitals must safeguard the safety, privacy and dignity of all patients, including following the legal requirements established by Parliament.”