Press Release

Shadow Health Secretary says he is ‘horrified’ and offers to meet Darlington nurses at centre of female changing room legal case

25 June 2024         Issued by: Christian Concern

Wes Streeting has said he is ‘horrified’ that NHS nurses have had to resort to legal action after being forced to share a changing room with a man identifying as a woman.

Mr Streeting has offered to meet the nurses and said after a video of them went viral last night that:

“I support the nurses and I’m horrified that they’ve had to resort to legal action. We’ve got to find a better way through this and I’d be happy to meet them. We’ve got to find a way through that treats trans people with respect and respects women’s safe spaces.”

In response to Mr Streeting, Conservative MP, Miriam Cates, said: “We don’t need a ‘better way through’. We just need to uphold the rules and boundaries – based on the realities of biology and human nature – that all societies throughout all history have upheld. Men are not allowed in women’s intimate spaces. That is where it begins and ends.”

J.K Rowling also waded in, reposting the video of the nurses and saying: “The nurses who are suing County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust for letting a trans identified man watch them change. The women and girls being robbed of sporting opportunities. It’s endless.”

News broke over the weekend that four of the Darlington nurses were speaking publicly following the launch of a landmark legal case against an NHS Trust. The nurses were told by HR that they needed to ‘broaden their mindset’ and be more ‘inclusive’, after asking not to share a changing room with a biological male identifying as a woman.

In response to Mr Streeting, Bethany Hutchison, the spokesperson for the group, said: “We would be happy to meet with Mr Streeting to discuss what has happened to us and continues to happen to us and our colleagues on a daily basis. We also think Keir Starmer should join the conversation so that members of the public are clear on what his position is on this issue.

“Nurses are scared to put their heads above the parapet and speak out. We believe what is happening in Darlington is just the tip of the iceberg, not just in the NHS, but across public services and UK society.

“There are policies in place that allow biological men to access female spaces if they merely say they identify as a woman. This is unacceptable, dangerous and we have no choice but to take this stand. We are very thankful for and grateful for all the support we have received so far. We encourage women and anyone concerned about this issue to raise their voices now.”

‘Cannot be ignored any longer’

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre which is supporting the group said, said: “Rishi Sunak says he knows what a woman is, Keir Starmer says he is committed to protecting single-sex spaces. The reality on the ground, however, is one of complete chaos. Policies have promoted gender ideology over biology creating widespread confusion that cannot be ignored any longer.

“We are encouraged that politicians and influencers are speaking out at this vital time, but we need further action to protect the Darlington nurses and women across the country.

“This case demonstrates as clear as day that this is an issue of biology not ideology. Once we lose a sense of physical reality all kinds of real and dangerous consequences emerge.

“Legislating to protect and promote ‘gender identity’ places women at risk, which is so strikingly evidenced in this case.

“This case and the Cass Review demonstrate how transgender ideology has led to a public health crisis, not only for vulnerable children and for patients on wards, but now also for NHS staff who are just trying to do their job.”

‘Are you getting changed yet?’

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, a group of nurses working at Darlington Memorial Hospital, which comes under the control of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, have filed legal action against the Trust for sexual harassment and sex discrimination.

Five of the nurses bringing the claim, Bethany Hutchison, Lisa Lockey, Annice Grundy, Tracey Hooper and Joanne Bradbury (image), who work in the Day Surgery Unit at the hospital, have decided to be identified and speak publicly after the Trust has continued to brush aside their concerns. Other nurses part of the action are remaining anonymous at this time.

They say female nurses at the hospital, including vulnerable women who have experienced sexual abuse and international nurses who cannot get changed in front of men, are having panic attacks before working on wards after having to get undressed in front of a sexually active biological male.

The male operating department practitioner, who openly says he does not take female hormones and is trying to get his girlfriend pregnant, says that he ‘identifies’ as a woman and is called ‘Rose.’

The Trust’s policies permit any member of staff to ‘identify’ in the opposite gender and to access single-sex changing rooms, toilets or showers on that basis.

The changing room does not have cubicles but staff lockers with a large open space where nurses change before and after working.

The changing room in question clicks shut and has a lock system that makes it slow to get in and out of.

The nurses say that ‘Rose’ often spends a long-time walking around the female dressing room. On many occasions he wears only tight male boxer underpants, staring at and initiating conversations with female nurses as they are getting changed.

One nurse, who has experienced sexual abuse as a child, has spoken of her shock and horror when she was approached in the dressing room. Having never spoken to ‘Rose’ before, semi-naked and with genitalia visible, she was asked three times: ‘Are you not getting changed yet?’

After 26 nurses wrote to the Trust raising concerns, HR bosses said that they support ‘Rose’ and that the nurses need to get ‘educated’ and ‘compromise’. They said that the mere fact that ‘Rose’ says he identifies as a woman means that he can use the female changing rooms.

After releasing their story anonymously to the media last month, the nurses say ‘Rose’ has continued to use the changing rooms and they believe the Trust hopes the controversy will ‘blow over.’

‘Rose’ has reportedly offered to educate the nurses on the matter.

The nurses are calling for government scrutiny on the NHS changing room policies which they say are putting them and women across the country ‘at risk’.

‘Threatened’ and ‘intimidated’ during HR meetings at the hospital, the nurses say that they fear for their jobs for speaking out, but believe they have no choice but to take a stand.

The group emphasise that this is not a personal attack on anyone and that they are not ‘transphobic’. They want female changing rooms to be protected and a solution and a safe policy for everyone.

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