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Older LGBT people need specialist healthcare, British Medical Association president says

Harriet Williamson May 14, 2019
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Photo of Dinesh Bhugra, the president of BMA

Dinesh Bhugra gives keynote speech at the PinkNews Ageing Summit 2019.

How do we ensure that the person at the centre of the clinical encounter gets the best possible care?

That is the question that Dinesh Bhugra, president of the British Medical Association, posed to policy-makers in his keynote speech at the first-ever PinkNews Ageing Summit in London on Tuesday (May 14).

Looking after LGBT+ people who are getting older and helping them to manage their mental and physical health is a major challenge, Bhugra said.

We are still in a period of transition with LGBT+ people, said Bhugra, as he impressed upon the policy-makers in attendance the importance of keeping in mind what we have already achieved in terms of LGBT+ rights to ensure that we don’t lose this progress, particularly in world where there are currently 71 countries where same-sex behaviour is illegal.

President of the British Medical Association Dinesh Bhugra speaking at the Pink News Ageing Summit 2019, at Adelaide House in London. The conference focused on raising awareness of the challenges that older LGBT+ people face. (Matt Crossick/PA Wire)

Bhugra pointed out that rates of psychiatric disorders, alcohol and smoking are much higher in LGBT+ population.

“Everyone should be able to walk through the doors of A&E and know they won’t get discriminated against.”

— Dinesh Bhugra

However, studies in the US have shown that in states where equality is present in terms of legislation, rates of psychiatric disorders drop.

Part of the explanation for the levels of mental distress within the LGBT+ population is minority stress, Bhugra said. Being part of any minority causes minority stress – a pressure caused by being part of a discriminated against or socially undervalued group.

Bhugra defined culturally competent services as those that take into account the cultural nuances and micro identities of individuals. Services must be appropriate, and both geographically and emotionally accessible.

The PinkNews Ageing Summit 2019 featured a host of speakers. (Matt Crosswick/PA)

Bhugra said that nurses should be trained to look after LGBT+ people, similarly to how Macmillan nurses are trained in cancer support.

He ended his keynote speech with a challenge to policy makers: “Everyone should be able to walk through the doors of A&E and know they won’t get discriminated against.”

See PinkNews’ full Ageing Summit report below:

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