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Practices’ LGB patient care to be recognised

16 January 2012

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A new initiative for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) patients will encourage practices to be “more accommodating” to their patients’ needs, it is claimed.

It is hoped that the benchmarking ‘Pride in Practice’ standard, due to be launched next month, will help ensure that LGB patients are fully supported in general practice.

Practices that sign up to the standard will be expected to create a “welcoming environment”, which includes the use of inclusive language and imagery, the monitoring of sexual orientation and the provision of training for staff on specific LGB issues.

Bronze, silver or gold certificates will then be awarded to practices in recognition of their achievements.

“I think Pride in Practice is a great initiative…GPs are going to have to be more accommodating to all of their patients’ needs,” said TV’s Dr Christian Jessen.

“It’s important to remember that patients have a choice about which GP practice they use, especially as these days they have to run more like a business, it is in the interests of practices to show that they are welcoming to lesbian, gay and bisexual patients… I fully approve of this.”

Both the Urban Village Medical Practice in Ancoats and The Docs in Manchester are currently piloting the standard – developed jointly between The Lesbian and Gay Foundation and NHS North West.

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Having read the comments so far the one thing that seems to be omitted is burn them at the stake outcats unclean unclean. The fact is that many practices treat LGBT people differently by definition. If you assume that all you patients are heterosexual then you are going discriminate automatically purely by omission if nothing else. GLADD the LGBT doctors group represent the Clinicians view very well but who speaks for lGBT patients right now no one apart from a small number of charities or advocate groups. Research has shown that if you are ignorant of who your client base is then you will miss key areas of concern. Trans people unofficially exchange information via the internet about good and bad GP services and guide people to the practises that treat people well and the number of openly prejudiced GPs who block maltreat or just ignore the needs of the trans people out of the misconcieved idea that it is a lifestyle choice? It is similar for LGB people very few people will out themselves to their GPs out of fear of being bigotry not because they get treat well anyway” – Louise Roebuck, Northeast England

“Fantastic initiative. I’m sure that all would agree that if we know relevant information about patient lifestyles, it’s much easier to tailor healthcare to their needs and tackle health inequalities. And no, lesbians don’t need to be asked what contraceptive they’re using every time they walk into the consulting room! Perhaps some of the resistance to change indicated by colleagues’ comments above would help to explain, among other things, the poor rates of early HIV detection in the UK” – Mark, Tyneside

“I think this is a good initiative, i am all for anything that makes GP practices feel welcoming to to all people and contary to some of the comments made not all gps and in particular doctors receptionist are not the most inclusive approachable and welcoming people. Lets get real LGB people are treated differently and not all gps and their staff are gay friendly, training is a must it is ussually those who moan the loudest or protest that they already treat all people with dignity empathy etc etc are in denial of their own bigotry and homophobic views” – Ruth Baddoo, North East

“Pride in Practice is in no way meant to be “insulting”, “disrespectful” or patronising to GPs, nurses or healthcare professionals. It’s reassuring that the five comments posted here [below] highlight that you treat all your patients with the same dignity, respect and care. However, unfortunately this cannot be said for all healthcare professionals; some of whom do not provide equality of care for their lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) patients. Figures show that 1 in 10 LGB&T individuals have avoided using public services for fear of homophobia, and 1 in 5 health care professionals have admitted to being homophobic. (Statistics taken from Out House, I Count Research 2004 & HMSO, Equalities Review: Sexual Orientation Research Review, 2007). Interestingly, almost 10,000 LGB people responded to the GP Patient Survey 2011 and LGB people were approximately twice as likely to rate their GP as poor or very poor, when compared to heterosexual people, across a range of measures. In line with The Lesbian & Gay Foundation’s priorities; Pride in Practice encourages sexual orientation monitoring, ethnicity is monitored as standard and under the Equality Act (2010) we would expect all public services to be monitoring sexual orientation, to be aware of the needs of their service users – so they can give them the best quality of care. It is true that sexual orientation is a sensitive issue, but that shouldn’t mean that it is ignored. This isn’t always about asking direct questions about sexual orientation (not “sexual preference”), rather it’s about using appropriate language and not making assumptions about peoples’ sexuality. It is often assumed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual patients are heterosexual, often leading to compromising situations, or a person feeling compelled to come out. You are the medical experts, far from telling you how to do your jobs, we are merely trying to support you in achieving excellence in healthcare for your LGB patients, and demonstrate and celebrate good practice. In recent research we carried out with lesbian and bisexual women around their experiences of cervical screening; 93% of participants thought that more needed to be done to train health professionals in the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) women relating to cervical screening. And in terms of the training we have given to healthcare professions, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with 90% of participants saying they felt more or a lot more informed. Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more likely to experience mental health issues, sexual health concerns, problems with substance misuse, social isolation, discrimination and hate crime. It is therefore essential that the needs of LGB people are considered in helping to overcome these health and social inequalities. We really hope this goes some way to reassuring you about the validity and need for this work. You may dismiss us as an “interest” group, but please listen to the needs and experiences of lesbian, gay and bisexual patients highlighted in this response, who clearly do not feel they are getting equal or quality treatment” – Joanne Dunning, LGF, Manchester

“This is extremely insulting and seems to overlook the fact that there are LGB drs and other staff too. It is, as others have said, totally disrespectful of the professional conduct of GPs and their staff. We do not know the sexual preferences and frankly really could not care. Patients are treated as people due respect and dignity whatever. pity the same cannot be said of the treatment meted out to GPs by interest groups” – Name and address withheld

“I totally concur with the below comments. It was hard enough when we were asking for ethnicity information as some patients were suspicious of our motives. This is a far more sensitive issue and a totally unnecessary initiative in my view. What a waste of money!” – Jennie Bee, Lincolnshire

“GP practices do not ask patients for their sexual preferences.  Thus we are unaware of their sexuality. Therefore they are not treated any differently to other patient and neither should they be. If we started asked pts about their sexuality there would certainly be an outcry/complaint. I think this is a stupid and unnecessary idea” – Pat Norris, Staffordshire

“I totally agree with the below comment. We do not need to be benchmarking this. All patients are treated equally and get respect and appropriate treatment no matter what their sexual oriententation which is a totally confidential matter. When will we treated with the respect we deserve in general practice? We really do not need to be guided in respect of gay rights. We already know. They are just human beings with human conditions, the same as the rest of us. If we are to be offered payment as an initiative to sign up that is an appalling waste of NHS money. We need to stop these schemes being dreamt up and get a grip” – Julia, Kent

“This implies that GP practices are prejudice! We treat all our patients with dignity,empathy and equality. We don’t need a scheme to target LGB patients” – M Robinson, Yorkshire