United Kingdom

Drive for transgender rights is risking patient safety in hospitals, says former NHS chief

A former hospital boss has accused the NHS of putting patients at risk by signing up to Stonewall’s controversial Diversity Champions scheme.

More than 90 healthcare organisations are understood to be members of the charity’s controversial programme, including the Department of Health, NHS England and numerous hospital trusts.

But Kate Grimes, a former chief executive of Kingston Hospital in South-West London, has joined a growing chorus calling on organisations to withdraw from the Stonewall scheme.

In an article for Health Service Journal, she wrote: ‘I believe working with Stonewall is no longer compatible with NHS values and risks the reputation of the NHS and safety of our patients and staff.’

Kate Grimes (pictured), a former chief executive of Kingston Hospital in South-West London, has joined a growing chorus calling on organisations to withdraw from the Stonewall scheme

Ms Grimes accused Stonewall of ‘undermining’ the NHS’s ability to keep patients safe, ‘stifling’ free speech and creating a ‘culture of fear’ among some NHS staff.

And she warned some advice risked ‘opening up NHS organisations to litigation and reputational damage’.

Ms Grimes recalled how she received offensive messages when she came out as a lesbian in the late 1980s, her pride at running one of the country’s leading HIV/AIDS services and appreciation for Stonewall’s campaign for greater equality.

More than 90 healthcare organisations are understood to be members of Stonewall's programme, including the Department of Health and NHS England

But she said the charity’s recent lobbying over trans issues had culminated in the ‘incorrect notion’ that a man who identifies as a woman is allowed by law to access female-only spaces. As a result, she added, female patients no longer have access to single-sex accommodation in wards and bathrooms.

‘The implications for patients are significant,’ she added. ‘Female patients are exposed to the distress and dangers of sharing private space with men at a time when they are vulnerable.’

Ms Grimes complained: ‘Hospital workers are losing their rights, enshrined in law, to separate bathroom and changing facilities. Anyone who speaks up may face disciplinary action, as policies are brought into line with Stonewall’s view.’

A Stonewall spokesman said: ‘We’re confident the advice we give to NHS trusts is robust and helps to create inclusive and safe environments for everyone.’

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