Asking male patients if they are pregnant doesn’t make any sense, says health secretary Sajid Javid
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said it “doesn’t make any sense” for male patients to be asked if they are pregnant before undergoing scans.
The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool currently asks all patients under the age of 60 whether they could be expecting a baby, regardless of their gender, if they are having X-Rays or MRI scans, according to The Daily Telegraph.
This is to ensure it is safe to proceed, given the harm radiation can pose to unborn children.
The newspaper said it understands the Walton Centre is one of a handful of trusts to adopt the policy.
But when asked on Thursday if it was right for NHS staff to direct the question to male patients, Mr Javid told reporters: “That doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Speaking during a visit to Barking Community Hospital in Essex, he said: “On a personal level I can’t think of why you would ask anyone that’s a biological male if they are pregnant or have been pregnant.”
He added: “If there is some kind of (a) clinical reason for an NHS hospital to do that then that’s a decision for them.”
It reportedly follows an update to regulations by the Department of Health in 2017, changing the definition of those who should be questioned on the matter from “females of childbearing age” to “individuals of childbearing potential”.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer faced four questions from broadcasters about his party’s views on gender, including on whether a woman can have a penis.
He said “biology matters” but there are “a small number of people who are born into a gender which they don’t identify with”, pointing to the case of Tory MP Jamie Wallis, who came out as trans on Wednesday.
Speaking in Bury following Labour’s local election campaign launch, Sir Keir said: “Biology matters and, for the vast majority of women, what matters is biology, we all understand that, we get that, that’s common sense.
“But there are a small number of people who are born into a gender which they don’t identify with, and strongly identify with another gender, and they often struggle, Jamie Wallis is a Conservative MP who bravely spoke out yesterday and demonstrated that struggle.
“I don’t want to stand in the way of supporting and respecting those who find themselves in that position.
“So, biology matters – (for) the vast majority of women that’s very, very straightforward.
“But there are a small number who struggle with their gender identity, and I want to respect and support them.”
The Opposition leader said he recognised that transgender people “often go through (a) very difficult time”, while at the same time stating that “nobody is quarrelling” with the “vast majority” view that “biology is what matters”.
Biology matters and, for the vast majority of women, what matters is biology, we all understand that, we get that, that’s common sense
Labour has found itself in difficulty over trans issues, with Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who has been vocal on her views on transgender issues and biology, saying earlier this month that the party could “no longer be counted on to defend women’s rights”.
A spokesperson from the Walton Centre said: “Our policy relating to asking patients if they are pregnant before undergoing procedures involving ionising radiation and MRI adheres to national legislation, as certain amounts of radiation can be harmful to foetuses in utero.
“We believe asking all people who are having their abdomen imaged/scanned in this way, regardless of gender, is the least intrusive way of ensuring it is safe to proceed.”
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