Health secretary Steve Barclay has said trans people will be banned from male-only and female-only hospital wards.
Speaking to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Tuesday, he said the NHS constitution will be amended following a consultation later this year to bring in the change.
Barclay said this would respect the “privacy, dignity and safety of all patients” and “recognise the importance of different biological needs and protect the rights of women”.
“I know as Conservatives, we know what a woman is and I know the vast majority of hardworking NHS staff and patients do too,” he told Tory members.
“To deliver the long-term change the NHS needs, we need a relentless focus on patient outcomes and that means prioritising frontline resources.
“It does not mean spending huge sums of taxpayer’s money on diversity consultants or hiring bloated internal diversity and inclusion teams.”
Sara Gorton, the head of health at the Unison union, said the mov was “deflection politics at its very worst”.
“Endlessly-growing waiting lists, lengthening ambulance delays, worsening industrial relations and a social care system so hopelessly adrift it risks bringing the NHS down with it.
“This is what should be keeping the health secretary awake at night. These are the problems the government could and should be acting on. Not trying to bar trans women from female-only wards.”
Barclay also said he had ordered a reversal of changes to the NHS website that removed references to women for conditions such as cervical cancer.
And he said the NHS had been told to stop telling staff to declare pronouns to each new patient.
The move is the latest in a long-line of Conservative policies aimed at what many in the party like to brand “woke” ideology.
It came after one backbench Tory MP warned his party to stop “fighting” the LGBT+ community and “demonising” trans people.
Elliot Colburn, the MP for Carshalton and Wallington, told a meeting on the fringes of the conference to “drop this hardcore rhetoric and we have to drop it now”.
“I want to make one thing perfectly clear to our Conservative colleagues. We will not win the next general election fighting with the LGBT+ community,” he said.