A poster advising NHS staff not to ask patients their names or genders has sparked outrage among critics who say it is dangerous and absurd. The poster, which was displayed at the Royal Free Hospital in London, was part of a campaign by the LGBTQ+ & Friends Network to promote trans rights and inclusion. However, some experts and commentators have argued that the poster contradicts medical guidelines and puts patients at risk.
Poster claims asking names is rude and insensitive
The poster, which was uncovered by the Policy Exchange think tank, listed seven ways to be a “good friend” to transgender people. One of the tips was: “Don’t ask inappropriate questions such as ‘what is your name?’ or ‘are you really a man or a woman?’”
The poster claimed that such questions are a “no-no, as are questions about genitals”. It added: “You would not [ask] such questions of cisgender people so why would you pose them to trans people?”
The poster also suggested that only staff wearing an official “ally” badge can be trusted to treat LGBTQ+ patients, implying that those who do not may provide less compassionate or qualified care.
Critics slam poster as dangerous and insulting
The poster has been met with fierce criticism from medical experts, journalists and politicians who say it is harmful and nonsensical. They argue that asking patients their names and genders is essential for accessing their medical records, diagnosing their conditions and providing appropriate care.
Policy Exchange said the poster contradicted regulator guidance from the General Medical Council to have accurate information about a person’s identity and health condition. It also said the poster insulted NHS staff by suggesting they would discriminate or harm trans patients.
Carole Malone, a columnist for the Express, wrote that the poster was “lunacy” and that trans activists should “butt out of medical care”. She said the NHS should focus on bringing down the waiting list instead of “wasting our money preaching trans rights”.
David Davies, a Conservative MP and critic of trans rights, said the poster was “absurd” and “dangerous”. He said he would raise the issue with the Health Secretary and ask him to intervene.
Hospital denies having policy on names and genders
A spokesperson for the Royal Free Hospital said there was no trust policy that said staff should not ask a patient’s name and that staff always addressed patients by their preferred name. He said the hospital had been unable to verify who created the poster and whether it had been through official trust channels.
The spokesperson said the wording of the poster appeared to have been taken from a Health Education England document, but the word “real” had been left out of it. He said the hospital was committed to providing inclusive and respectful care for all patients.
The spokesperson also said the hospital had signed up to an NHS England scheme called the Equality Delivery System (EDS), which aims to improve outcomes for patients and staff from diverse backgrounds. He said the scheme involved staff wearing badges to show their support for different groups of patients.