New guide for LGBT patients on what to expect from their doctor

A new guide for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) patients, setting out what they should expect from their doctor, has been published to coincide with the start of Pride Month by the General Medical Council (GMC).

The medical regulator has produced the guide – its first aimed specifically at LGBT patients – in conjunction with LGBT rights charity Stonewall and LGBT doctors’ organisation GLADD.

It makes clear that all patients, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity and trans status, should be treated fairly and without discrimination, should have their confidentiality respected, and must not be denied access to appropriate treatment or healthcare services because of a doctor’s personal beliefs.

The GMC already has core guidance, for doctors, on the standards that all patients should expect. The new LGBT patient information includes examples of what LGBT patients should and shouldn’t expect from their doctor and what to do if they are concerned about their care. Research shows that around one in seven (14%) LGBT people have experienced some form of unequal treatment from healthcare staff because they’re LGBT.*

"Doctors have a duty to treat LGBT patients with the same respect and understanding as all their patients. We know most doctors do this, but we also know that LGBT patients can face discrimination and unfair treatment."

Charlie Massey

GMC Chief Executive

Charlie Massey, the GMC’s Chief Executive, said:

’Doctors have a duty to treat LGBT patients with the same respect and understanding as all their patients. We know most doctors do this, but we also know that LGBT patients can face discrimination and unfair treatment. This new guide sets out clearly what they should expect from doctors, and what they can do if their treatment falls below those standards.’

Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said:

‘It’s great the General Medical Council has put together this new guide for LGBT patients. While most doctors want to deliver the best possible care, many LGBT people still fear that they will face discrimination from their healthcare providers, and we know from our research that one in seven LGBT people say they’ve avoided treatment because of these fears. Guides like this are essential tools that show LGBT people the level of care they should expect and how they can report any concerns.’

Dr Duncan McGregor, Co-Chair of GLADD - The Association of LGBTQ+ Doctors and Dentists, said:

‘GLADD welcomes this new guidance from the GMC to support and empower LGBT patients. While the vast majority of doctors are well-meaning and caring professionals, this new guide will help both patients and doctors to support each other in ensuring the best care is afforded to the LGBT population.’

The LGBT patients’ rights pages provide positive examples of where doctors have treated LGBT patients inclusively and sensitively as well as examples of where the care provided by a doctor has fallen short.

LGBT patients can also find information if they have concerns about the care provided by their doctor, plus details of organisations across the UK that can provide additional help.

The GMC’s guide for LGBT patients is available online here.

* Stonewall’s report, LGBT in Britain – Health, 7 November 2018