A visit to your doctor is not always a pleasant or easy experience, and now things are about to get a little more awkward thanks to new NHS guidelines.
According to BBC News, GPs will be encouraged to ask patients over the age of 16 which sexuality they identify with from April 2019, with the available responses listed as: ‘Heterosexual or Straight’, ‘Gay or Lesbian’, ‘Bisexual’, ‘Other’ or ‘Don’t Know’. Patients also have the right not to answer the question, which will then be recorded as ‘not stated’.
The new rules apply to doctors, nurses and those in adult social care, with the question to be asked at “every face to face contact with the patient, where no record of this data already exists.”
Thankfully, these guidelines have not just been pulled out of thin air, having been created in conjunction with many organisations, including Manchester’s LGBT Foundation. Its chief executive, Paul Martin, has called the changes a “hugely important step in the right direction”, while NHS England maintains that it will allow them to “better understand, respond to and improve LGB patients’ service access”, as many are affected by distinct health inequalities, such as mental illness.
While some have called the line of questioning intrusive or irrelevant, anything that ensures people who don’t identify as hetero get the specific healthcare they need and deserve has got to be change for the good.
It could also help end awkward, narrow-minded exchanges like this:
doctor: what kind of protection are you using?
me: 🙂 pic.twitter.com/PsOuZWSMOQ
— Ellie 🌻🌞 (@elisejasek) 23 August 2017
And we’re here for that.