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Cutbacks leaving LGBT people without specialist mental health support

UNISON lgbt report

Sexual health and youth support has also been scaled down.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are facing long waits for appointments at gender identity clinics and being denied specialist mental health counselling because of cutbacks, says new research published today by UNISON.

Sexual health and youth support has also been scaled down. This has resulted in reduced opening hours, cuts to the range of advice sessions offered­ – and even services axed altogether, according to the report Implications of Reductions to Public Spending for LGB and T People and Services. This includes HIV awareness programmes providing condoms as well as youth groups offering a lifeline for trans people.

The report, commissioned by UNISON from NatCen Social Research, presents a damning picture of how the needs of the LGBT community in Britain are not being met especially around health, gender identity and mental well-being. Not enough staff are available who are trained to give advice around LGBT issues, despite increasing demand for treatment and counseling, according to the report.

The findings suggest ambulance services are being increasingly relied upon by LGBT because cutbacks have made appropriate support difficult to access.

This is putting an extra burden on an already overstretched NHS according to the report, which is based on interviews and written testimonies from charities, support organisations and from LGBT people using these services.

UNISON’s national officer for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality Carola Towle said: “Fears about public spending cuts have now become a reality for LGBT people.

“They already face prejudice on a daily basis and some end up needing support because of this discrimination. But cutbacks to vital services have left them feeling even more marginalised, isolated and invisible.

“It’s wrong to believe that withdrawing specialist services for LGBT people is a cost saving. It’s a false economy that is damaging lives and storing up trouble for the future.”

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