LGBTQIA+ Health and Care: Challenges and Barriers.

Author: Sian Dickie

In this blog post, our NENC VCSE Engagement Coordinator Sian, explores the topic of LGBTQIA+ health and care. The unique challenges and barriers which can often face the community, and resources which people may find useful. 

There are significant barriers to health and care for LGBTQIA+ people

“One in seven LGBT people (14 per cent) avoid seeking health care for fear of discrimination from staff. And more than a quarter of lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer NHS staff (29 per cent) and three in five trans NHS staff (59 per cent) have experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from their colleagues.”   The King’s Fund. 

Health and care issues, challenges and barriers which LGBTQIA+ people may face

  • Lack of access to gender affirming care. This most recent blog by Mermaids demonstrates the current barriers there are to gender affirming care, specifically for young people. This includes restricted access to puberty blockers, additional measures that Neurodivergent LGBTQIA+ people will face and a “punitive approach” for those who seek care through a private provider.
  • According to TransActual’s Transition Access Survey 2022 report “As waiting times continue to increase, we are concerned that the negative impacts of waiting many years for transition related care may only become more common and more severe. This can have dangerous consequences, including an increasing number of people choosing to self-medicate for HRT. Those who self-medicate often are not able to access a safe and reliable source of hormones and may not have access to blood testing.” – Read the report.
  • According to Eating Distress North East “LGBTQ+ adolescents and adults experience a higher incidence of eating disorders and eating distress. This can be because of experiences of greater levels of stress, discrimination, bullying, social isolation and social pressures.”
  • Learning how to bind safely. AKT have this guide which shows how to bind safely. 
  • LGBTQIA+ people may be more likely to experience poor mental health and wellbeing. According to Mind, LGBTQIA+ people are more likely to develop low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. AKT have developed a range of guides with free and affordable resources for LGBTQIA+ people:
  • In Hospice UK’s “I Just Want To Be Me” report, it demonstrates that often trans and gender diverse people’s end of life care is typically not inclusive of their needs. “This report shows that in many instances, the end of life care that trans and gender diverse people receive is not inclusive of them, and despite best intentions and a willingness to learn, staff feel they lack the knowledge and training needed. Trans and gender diverse people who had accessed palliative and end of life care at times experienced insensitivity from staff, misgendering and confusion over their identity and instances of poor physical care.” – Read the full report. 

This is not exhaustive. There are many more issues which LGBTQIA+ people may face. Accessing health and care overall can be a worry for LGBTQIA+ people because: 

AKT states that: 

“Coming out, or being outed as LGBTQ+, can lead to young people being made homeless. 24% of homeless young people identify as LGBTQ+.

Once homeless, LGBTQ+ young people are more likely to face violence and discrimination than young people who aren’t LGBTQ+. They’re also more likely to develop substance misuse issues and experience sexual exploitation. This can all take a huge toll on someone’s physical and mental health.”

In their accessing healthcare resource AKT further states:

“You do not have to have a current address in order to access a GP – as long as you are within their practice area, and they are not at capacity, then you can register with them. 

A GP cannot deny healthcare because you are homeless, do not have proof of address or identification, or because of your immigration status and if they are unable to take you on as a patient in their area, they must explain this in writing.”

Supporting LGBTQIA+ staff

In this blog post the King’s Fund highlight the importance of supporting LGBTQIA+ staff in the NHS. They state that “In health and social care specifically, Stonewall found that more than a quarter of lesbian, gay or bisexual staff reported experiencing bullying or poor treatment, related to their sexual orientation, from colleagues in the preceding five years. Almost one in ten were aware of colleagues experiencing discrimination as a result of being trans.” 


At VONNE we host the VCSE Partnership Programme which hosts 8 topical Sub-Groups, including a recently formed LGBTQIA+ Sub-Group. This Sub-Group is designed for people responsible for health and wellbeing policy and strategic work within their VCSE organisation. Our second meeting of the LGBTQIA+ Sub-group is due to take place on Wednesday, 5th July at 1pm – 2:30pm. If you would like to join us, you can sign up for the group here or message for further information.