Amendment 184ZBA

Part of Health and Care Bill - Report (4th Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 1:15 am on 16th March 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Brinton Baroness Brinton Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Health) 1:15 am, 16th March 2022

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, who very carefully laid out the law on the Equality Act and how it fits in with the guidance.

The amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, on same-sex accommodation in hospitals, returns to her concerns about the balance between the Equality Act and NHS guidance Delivering Same-Sex Accommodation. I note that the Minister said in Committee that

NHS England is currently reviewing the

The current NHS guidance is already rooted in the Equality Act 2010 and includes guidance on accommodating trans people. That does not mean that women are excluded. The guidance was created in 2010 and updated as recently as 2019. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, said, it is very clear about the reasonable adjustments for trans people, but that does not remove the core principle that all patients should be safe and dignified.

Amendment 184ZBA seeks to create a false understanding of the ways in which this works. It would also revoke annexe B in its current form, but, frankly, that is unnecessary, because the Equality Act 2010 and the guidance already provide an effective mechanism for inclusion in the context of single-sex spaces. The whole point about annexe B is that it guides NHS staff in how to deliver same-sex accommodation for trans people, which is a very small number of patients, and probably most NHS staff have not had trans patients. It does not supersede the Equality Act. It is accompanied by the NHS safeguarding policies, underpinned by the Care Act, which set out how children and vulnerable adults will be protected from harm and abuse.

The problem is that the amendment would create a blanket policy against trans inclusion in NHS accommodation, resulting in trans women having to be accommodated in men’s NHS accommodation and trans men in women’s NHS accommodation. This would create an environment that was contrary to the dignity and well-being of patients. The amendment is therefore unnecessary and, frankly, harmful. It also goes against the careful NHS guidance and breaches the key element in the Equality Act, which the Minister reminded us of in Committee. He said:

“This means that the rights and needs of women and trans women are equal in law”.—[Official Report, 9/2/22; col. 1725.]

Above all, there is no evidence to suggest that the status quo is not working. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, will withdraw her amendment.