The first ever national conference on end of life care for LGBT people will take place this Thursday in London.
Policymakers, service providers, academics and people who are themselves dying will come together on Thursday to discuss how to improve end of life care for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The conference is organised by the National Council for Palliative Care in association with the National End of Life Care Programme and the University of Nottingham.
Among the speakers at the Central London event will be LGBT and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who will say: “LGBT people continue to be at risk of being let down by end of life care services. Many fear prejudice and isolation. They are not always treated with dignity and respect when they are dying.”
Other speakers include Dr Kathryn Almack from the University of Nottingham, Dr Andrew King from Kingston University, Dr Ann Cronin, Tung Suen from the University of Oxford, retired police officer Cheryl Callow, Eleanor Sherwen from the National End of Life Care Programme and senior hospice staff.
Sam Turner, Director of Public Engagement at the National Council for Palliative Care and one of the conference speakers said: “Good end of life care should be about doing all we can to make people feel safe and secure to talk about their lives and the people who are important to them without worrying they may be discriminated against.
“We only have one chance to get end of life care right for people who are dying, which is why it is so important that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are able to access high quality and appropriate care and support when they are dying.”
Human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell added: “Becoming seriously ill and knowing you are dying is distressing enough without the added stress of worrying that your carers may not accept you if they know you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
“Fear of homophobic prejudice, rejection and neglect is very real and continues to damage people’s lives. Many terminally ill lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people feel doubly vulnerable – on account of their illnesses and on account of homophobia and transphobia.
“We still have a long way to go to ensure treatment and support without prejudice, which is why I am delighted to be speaking at this important, ground-breaking event. I commend the work of the National Council for Palliative Care and the National End of Life Care Programme.”
The conference takes place on the day that the National End of Life Care Programme publishes a new guide on end of life care for LGBT people, developed following consultation and discussion groups held across the country.
‘The route to success in end of life care – achieving quality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people’ aims to encourage people to be confident in being open about their relationships and needs, guide organisations and people within them to have an LGBT friendly culture and highlight constructive key messages for everyone to act on.
Earlier this year a report by the National Council for Palliative Care and the Consortium of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Voluntary and Community Organisations, Open to All, found that many LGBT people did not feel that end of life care services are open to them and were concerned that they would face discrimination and a lack of understanding from health and social care providers when dying.
The conference takes place on Thursday 21 June, 10.30am to 3.45pm, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel & Conference Centre, 4 -18 Harrington Gardens, Kensington, London SW7 4LH. Visit the NHS website to book a place; admission is free.