Lesbian and bisexual women share their NHS experiences

Yepoka Yeebo July 30, 2007
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Stonewall is asking lesbian and bisexual women to answer questions about their health and experiences of using health services in the largest survey of its kind.

The gay equality organisation is concerned that very little is known about the health of lesbians and bisexual women, and that this may be affecting health care provision.

“The health sector doesn’t always get it right, we know that,” Ruth Hunt, head of Policy and Research at Stonewall, told

“Nobody really knows what lesbians need, how we live or what our experiences are.

“And the simple reason for this is that nobody has ever really asked before.

“The more responses we get the more we can help the health sector understand our needs and provide a better service – a service we are all entitled to,” said Ms Hunt.

Stonewall has heard several negative stories about lesbian women’s experiences of the NHS, including women being refused smear tests and health care professionals refusing to acknowledge a lesbian mother’s female partner.

“We also heard from women who have been told [by health care professionals] they are making a mistake being a lesbian and that they shouldn’t rule out a nice man,” said Ms Hunt.

She added that Stonewall rarely heard about positive experiences of the NHS, and that the survey was as much about highlighting the good as the bad.

They also want to hear from women who sleep with women but do not define themselves as bisexual or lesbian.

The survey runs until September and also asks about alcohol and drug use, sexual health, smoking and domestic violence.

It is anonymous, confidential and takes about 15 minutes to complete, either online, or on paper.

Women who complete the survey can also enter a prize draw to win £100.

The results will be analysed and the findings published next year.

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