Using Pride month to empower pharmacy staff and improve the care we provide to LGBTQ+ patients

Pride month every June is the perfect opportunity for everyone to reflect on the progress made in advancing the rights of LGBTQ+ people, and consider what else needs done to continue this. I decided to use June this year to empower the LGBTQ+ pharmacy staff working in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, increase awareness of the problems faced by LGBTQ+ patients in healthcare and increase clinical knowledge of health conditions disproportionately faced by LGBTQ+ patients.

I worked with two other pharmacists and a pharmacy student to develop the idea. We discussed which areas to focus on, and sent a communication around the pharmacy teams in Glasgow to invite other people to get involved. We decided to create Pride communications containing staff reflections and clinical updates, plan teaching sessions and link in with national Pride work.

Staff reflections are a vital way of showing how real the problems faced by LGBTQ+ people are, as they change an abstract idea into something concrete faced by someone you know. I reflected on my experiences as a gay pharmacist, how it feels to hear homophobic comments and coming out to colleagues. Another pharmacist shared her experience of being an ally, and how she supported her friend who is a pharmacist and a lesbian.

Data on LGBTQ+ patients’ experiences with healthcare systems were circulated, particularly highlighting the concerns faced by transgender people. For example, 24% of LGBTQ+ people and 41% of trans people reported hearing discriminatory comments from healthcare professionals, and 12% of LGBTQ+ and 37% of trans people have avoided seeking treatment for a medical condition owing to fear of discrimination​[1]​.

I organised a teaching session from the local gender identity clinic to increase pharmacy staff’s understanding of trans healthcare, including the use of hormone therapy and how we can ensure correct pronouns are used for patients. I also provided an update on HIV, highlighting the key message of ‘U = U, undetectable = untransmittable’.

We linked in national updates, including the LGBT badge which recently launched in NHS Scotland, and shared virtual Pride events for NHS staff.

The communications were well received, with colleagues remarking on how their knowledge had increased and the importance of discussing these topics. We hope to continue this annually, and also build on this work to tackle other health inequalities and discrimination.

Acknowledgement

The above work would not have been possible without Andrew Carruthers, Fiona Needleman and Mark Stuart who helped make it happen.

Andrew Sommerville, specialist clinical pharmacist (hepatitis C), Gartnavel General Hospital, Glasgow, Scotland

  1. 1
    Bridger S, Snedden M, Bachmann C, et al. LGBT in Scotland – Health Report. Stonewall Scotland. 2018.https://www.stonewallscotland.org.uk/sites/default/files/lgbt_in_scotland_-_health_report.pdf (accessed Aug 2021).
Last updated
Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, September 2021, Vol 307, No 7953;307(7953)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.102590