Midwives ordered to say '˜partner' after lesbian couple's complaint over '˜fella'

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Midwives in Blackpool have been told to use the word '˜partner' during antenatal classes after an expectant lesbian couple complained about the use of the word '˜fella'.

The pair were also given one-to-one sessions after telling hospital bosses that they are too uncomfortable to return to the sessions.

“The midwife hosting the class kept referring to the ‘fella’s role’ during the labour process,” hospital documents revealed.

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“The patient is in a same sex relationship and felt this terminology was inappropriate, and that same-sex couples or single mothers could be made to feel uncomfortable.

“The community midwives have been reminded not to use this terminology and to only use the word ‘partner’ in future classes.

“One-to-one parentcraft sessions have also been arranged for the couple as they felt uncomfortable returning to the class.”

Opposition leader at Blackpool Council, Tony Williams, said: “It would have been an innocent comment and there would have been no intention to offend.

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“I can understand if people feel offended or left out but I feel in this instance it would have been without malice. Both sides should draw a line under this and carry on.”

A spokeswoman for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said there was no additional cost for the one-to-one session, and said ‘all our midwifery care is individualised to the family’.

No written policy instructing staff on how they should speak to patients and their families exists either, she told The Gazette.

British Medical Association guidance, which it said was for its own staff and not its 156,000 doctor members, saw the union criticised last month after a raft of words were considered to be potentially ‘discriminatory’.

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It said: “You should avoid references to a person’s gender except where it is relevant in a discussion.”

It suggested using ‘neutral’ language when referring to a person’s loved ones unless there is certainty over which gender to use.

It added: “For example, use the word ‘partner’ instead of ‘wife’ or ‘husband’, ‘parent’ instead of ‘mum’ or ‘dad’, and ‘child’ instead of ‘son’ or ‘daughter’.

“You can also mix up the word order in common expressions, eg instead of saying, ‘men and women’, use ‘women and men’.”

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The document said words and phrases that reinforce stereotypes, cause discomfort or offence, or exclude certain groups of people through assumptions, could be considered discriminatory.

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