When we published our national diversity pledges in 2019; and with them, our first report looking at issues people of colour face, and how health innovation can play its part in tackling these, we were clear in our statement of intent: our NHS should represent and reflect the communities we serve.
As innovation organisations, how AHSNs (Academic Health Science Networks) support the development and adoption of healthcare innovation and technology must be based around our core mission to serve all our population, and to ensure that the transformation of our health service reduces, and not widens, health inequalities.
Like People of Colour and other marginalised communities in England, the LGBTQ+ community is disproportionately affected by ill health, social pressures and healthcare inequalities. These inequalities have complex and multifaceted histories and factors contributing to their continued presence.
Today, in 2021, we have joined forces with LGBT Foundation to collate a comprehensive compilation of evidence, which outlines the huge range of healthcare inequalities LGBTQ+ people face today; and lead a call out which seeks innovation to help address these.
From lesbian women facing unconscious bias and assumptions with fertility services, lack of health services available to young trans people; through to increased likelihood of drug and alcohol use and mental health crisis; and higher probability of suffering complex long-term conditions, the full healthcare spectrum is more acute and severe for LGBTQ+ people. When you intersect this with ethnicity, gender, age, and alternative sexualities and gender, the issues become more stark and severe. Our review also touches on older members of the LGBTQ+ generation – ageing well and care homes – a community whose needs are arguably often forgotten.
And now the world faces a health crisis like no other. Like other marginalised groups, LGBT+ people are being more heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures more than their heterosexual and cis counterparts.
It is because of these varied and stark inequalities that we have partnered with LGBT Foundation to call out to health colleagues, academics, researchers, innovators, small-to-medium businesses, and partners – searching for innovations, best practice, and improvement programmes to help address health inequalities facing this community.
Our aim is to showcase this work nationally, supporting best practice to be adopted more widely across health and care services.
By combining the expertise of LGBT Foundation, the reach of the AHSN Network (and our partners), and by amplifying the good work and innovation already being developed, we hope to be able to help change healthcare services for LGBTQ+ people and continue to serve our communities in an equitable and inclusive way.