Ambulance service vows to do better after trans patient repeatedly asked 'inappropriate' question by paramedics

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The East of England Ambulance Service Trust offered its ‘sincere apologies’

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust says it has taken steps to improve after a trans patient was repeatedly questioned about his genitals by paramedics.

Attendees of the BLMK Integrated Care Board (ICB) (Friday, January 27) heard the two male paramedics continued to ask the question – which was “in no way relevant” – until the patient’s partner intervened.

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To preserve the patient’s anonymity, his story was read to the board by Sarah Stanley, chief nursing director at BLMK ICB.

Ambulance service says it has taken steps to improveAmbulance service says it has taken steps to improve
Ambulance service says it has taken steps to improve

“It is an uncomfortable story, but it should help us think about our experiences towards our [patients], but also us as healthcare professionals in treating every [person] that we come across,” she said.

The patient had collapsed following an adverse reaction to the covid vaccination.

“His partner phoned 999 and an ambulance on this occasion came in very good time and the paramedics were very kind to him,” Ms Stanley said.

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“They went to their usual assessment of assessing his airways, breathing and his circulation, and in doing that they had to undo his shirt to examine his chest,” she said.

“They noticed that he had a double mastectomy several years ago, and the two male paramedics then asked what genitals he had.”

Ms Stanley explained that this question would not be required “in any way shape or form” to assess how unwell the patient was from his collapse.

“They continued to ask again and again, and eventually his partner said ‘I don’t think that’s an appropriate question’, and they stopped,” she said.

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“The patient was taken to hospital and treated very appropriately and was discharged later on.

“The experience left him very sad,” she said.

“He says he often experiences this inappropriate curiosity by healthcare professionals, which makes him feel like he’s being outed and not equal to the other people who receive care.

“I’m sure my colleagues would feel surprised and saddened by this experience as I do, and we would want to thank him for wanting to share this experience,” she said.

Graham Clark, co-chair of EEAST’s LGBT+ Staff Support Network, said: “We are very disappointed to hear this story and offer our sincere apologies for the experience the patient and his partner had.

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“In the last three years, we have talked to our staff about understanding our patients better and we’ve undertaken training and provided education resources to compliment this education.

“We are also developing policies and procedures to address improvement opportunities in association with the national LGBT+ network and other UK ambulance services.

“This training includes the language we use when talking to people from all backgrounds, including trans people.

“In an organisation the size of ours, this is taking some time – but we are committed to improving our service by listening to the experiences shared by local people.

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“We have invited this patient to share his story with our board, so we can make sure his experience helps us to make a difference to the thousands of people we serve across the East of England.

“We thank this person for his courage in raising this important issue with the Trust.”