Zoë Garbett reflects on inequalities in LGBT+ healthcare and her work with the NHS to tackle these issues

LGBT+ history month is a time to celebrate the past, and to apply its lessons to our present. My politics and my career in the public sector have been inspired by LGBT+ activists throughout history, particularly the impact of the ACT UP movement and the strength and solidarity shown by LGSM in the 1980s. However, LGBT+ people continue to face huge inequalities, particularly in healthcare.

The NHS acknowledges this, with their own advisor on LGBT+ Health saying “Their [LGBT people’s] access to healthcare is poorer, their experience of healthcare is worse and, frequently, their outcomes from healthcare are not as good as heterosexual or cisgender people.[1]” 

We know this is completely unacceptable. It horrifies me that some people experience worse health than others, due to who they are and factors beyond their control. As an assistant director in the NHS, my work focused on identifying these health inequalities, and working to prevent them. Now, I’m standing for Mayor of London, and I want to spread this work across London.

It’s a difficult time to work on addressing inequalities. The Government is on a rampage against equality, diversity and inclusion roles and pushing a divisive narrative contributing to a rise in LGBTIQA+ hate crime. LGBT+ people are attacked on the streets because of this rhetoric, and rights we’ve had to fight for are already being rolled back. From my work, I know the risks we face, and I know what we can be doing to help.

Even if an action seems small, it can make a huge impact. I’ve worked with the LGBT Foundation to improve the experiences of LGBT+ people accessing GP care in practices in North London, making a real impact on frontline health care services for those people. I’d like to see that pilot expanded, spreading these improvements across London. On top of that, I championed gender-inclusive toilets and changing rooms in hospitals, and ensured data collected about gender and sexuality by the trusts in my area is collected sensitively, at a time when many LGBT+ people are understandably nervous about sharing this information.

Our community needs this work. And I’m best placed to advocate for the needs of our community, both in healthcare and other places, because I understand what our community needs. I know how to get it. And there’s so much more to be done, with reporting of  mental health problems being higher in LGBT+ people than the general population, and still so many systematic barriers to receiving the care needed.

The work I did within the health system is being shared across the country, as an example of best practice. I’m so proud of the difference I’ve been able to make for LGBT+ people in London, and, as your Green candidate for Mayor of London, I promise to continue this work and continue to improve things for our community.

[1] https://www.kcl.ac.uk/nmpc/assets/research/projects/abc-lgbt-inclusive-communication.pdf?dm_i=6OI9,TOQ2,3LDOAL,3N5OC,1


To top