Workers refuse to reveal sexual preferences
Hundreds of public sector workers in Bath have refused to reveal their sexual orientation to their employer.
The 1,652 people providing community health and social services in the Bath area were all requested to complete a questionnaire asking them about their age, ethnicity and disabilities as part of a drive to meet the requirements of recent legislation.
But nearly 900 of them – 52 per cent – refused to answer a question asking them for their sexual orientation.
The largest proportion of refuseniks were the 740 staff employed by Bath and North East Somerset Council – with 81 per cent of them leaving that section blank.
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Staff employed by NHS B&NES were more forthcoming, with 69 per cent of the 912-strong workforce admitting to being heterosexual, and 29.7 per cent refusing to answer.
Across the entire staff of the B&NES community health and social care services – who work in fields from district nursing to psychology – only 20 people stated that they were gay, lesbian or bisexual, which is just over 1.2 per cent.
B&NES Council said the survey was part of its work to ensure that it treated its staff fairly regardless of their sexual orientation.
A spokeswoman said: "The Equality Act 2010 means that we have a legal obligation to ensure we are treating our staff fairly regardless of their sexual orientation.
"Monitoring sexual orientation helps us to identify, tackle and prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual staff.
"We recognise that staff may not want to disclose information (e.g. on their sexual orientation, or their disability), and we respect their right not to - we offer a 'prefer not to say' option on all our monitoring questions."
The workforce, who are likely to be transferred to a new organisation running £50 million of services within the next two years, is overwhelmingly female, with less than 12 per cent of staff men.
The council and the health body NHS B&NES are planning to create a not-for-profit organisation to run the services.
A report to a council meeting next week which includes the employee statistics says the future – once a Government shake-up of the NHS is complete – could be very different.
It says: "Providers of community-based health and social care will be operating in a world which is significantly different from that to which most of our staff are accustomed."
The report says that new skills will be needed as more care is delivered in the community rather than in hospital.
"We will develop a workforce which is, at all levels, more highly skilled, more knowledgeable and more self-confident in its practice.
"Specifically, we will need to develop clinical skills which have historically been aligned with hospital-based care."
It adds: "We will develop a workforce which goes beyond providing care and treatment but also sees its role as educating, enabling and empowering individuals and families to take charge of their own health and well-being.
"They will address health opportunities as well as health needs."
The document reveals that around 30 posts will need to be axed in the next year to balance the books.