Four in five nursing staff have no training in transgender care

A RCN survey reveals a lack of training for nurses in caring for transgender patients.
Transexual protest

Nearly four out of five nursing staff have had no training in caring for transgender patients, a RCN survey has revealed.

Wendy Irwin
RCN diversity and equalities coordinator Wendy Irwin. Picture: Barney Newman

The college is warning that the health service is ill-equipped to meet the needs of transgender people.

A UK-wide survey of 1,283 nursing staff in August 78% said they had recieved no training at all in this area, and 1% said their pre-registration training covered care of transgender patients.

Rise in treatment requests

The number of people seeking gender identity treatment in the UK has risen steeply in recent years.

A Freedom of Information request by The Guardian earlier this year showed that some gender identity clinics have experienced increases in their number of referrals of several hundred per cent.

Three quarters (76%) of respondents to the RCN survey said they encounter transgender patients and more than half (56%) have cared for them directly.

But only 13% said they felt prepared to meet these patients’ needs.

Nurse responses

One nurse who responded to the survey said: ‘There appears to be a mismatch between the need for these services and the training given.

‘Currently there is not enough support and this adds further distress to the experience of this group of patients.’

The RCN is calling on the government to introduce care of transgender patients to all levels of nursing and wider healthcare education.

The survey showed that only 14% of nursing staff said their service can meet the needs of children who identify as transgender.

RCN diversity and equalities coordinator Wendy Irwin said: ‘Building both competence and confidence in understanding is key to breaking through stigma, but as this survey shows, support through learning and development is urgently required if we are to provide the care and support trans people need.’

Further information: 

RCN guidance on caring for transgender patients

CliniQ service case study

Patient view: how to build trust with a trans young person