Health Secretary Steve Barclay has gave a speech at the Tory party conference this morning in which he effectively banned trans women from female NHS wards.
He has since been accused of making a “cynical attempt to look busy”.
Barclay said new guidance would be a "a common-sense approach to sex and equality".
He said women’s rights have been sidelined and announced changes that will see men and women given the right to receive care on single-sex wards.
But LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall said women “regularly report dissatisfaction with the healthcare they receive in England”, as per Sky News.
Steve Barclay - "The militant BMA leadership... pose a serious thread to the NHS's recovery... this clearly shows that BMA leadership are not on the side of patients."#CPC23 pic.twitter.com/e0yle25pjq
— Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 (@Haggis_UK) October 3, 2023
The charity cited underfunding on female-specific health issues and women “not having their symptoms taken seriously”.
Regarding the ban on transgender women, a Stonewall spokesperson said: “This is a cynical attempt by the Secretary of State to ‘look busy’ instead of getting on with the graft of implementing the Women’s Health Strategy, and, besides being unworkable, all it will achieve is to restrict access to healthcare for trans women, by making it humiliating and dangerous.”
To applause from Tory members, Mr Barclay said that “as Conservatives, we know what a woman is”.
And he said: “That is why I ordered a reversal of unacceptable changes to the NHS website that erased references to women for conditions such as cervical cancer, and stopped the NHS ordering staff to declare pronouns to each new patient.
“And that is why today I am going further by announcing that we will change the NHS constitution following a consultation later this year to make sure we respect the privacy, dignity and safety of all patients and recognise the importance of different biological needs and protect the rights of women.”
Braverman: “Trans women have no place in women’s wards"
Mr Barclay said if that seems like “simple common sense, that is because it is”.
The Tories said patients and staff have raised concerns about “biological men” being allowed onto women’s hospital wards.
Mr Barclay also confirmed that sex-specific language had been restored to online health advice pages about cervical and ovarian cancer and menopause.
It followed outrage from Tory MPs about the removal of the word “women” from some of the NHS’s online guidance.
Someone should remind Steve Barclay that he is responsible for the NHS. In his speech, no mention of a plan to tackle over 7 million people stuck on waiting lists or end the 8am scramble for a GP appointment.
— Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (@DrRosena) October 3, 2023
Home secretary Suella Braverman also said trans women “have no place in women’s wards” in hospitals.
She told broadcasters: “Trans women have no place in women’s wards or indeed any safe space relating to biological women.
“And the health secretary is absolutely right to clarify and make it clear that biological men should not have treatments in the same wards and in the same safe spaces as biological women. This is about protecting women’s dignity, and women’s safety and women’s privacy.”
Braverman is expected to make a "Suella uncut" speech later pertaining to asylum seekers in what many believe is a potential leadership speech.