Doctors who discriminate against lesbian, gay or bisexual patients are being targeted by a joint initiative launched today by Stonewall and the General Medical Council.

Research by the gay equality organisation found that LGB people faced discrimination in the health service, including doctors who did not want to offer smear tests to lesbian patients, discriminatory comments and doctors refusing to register patients because of their sexuality.

“We hope this will reassure gay people than they can, and should, complain when they receive substandard care, and that their complaint will be taken seriously, said Ruth Hunt, head of policy and research at Stonewall.

“We have heard from many men and women who have been treated differently because of their sexual orientation.”

The Sexual Orientation Regulations, which became law earlier this year, make it illegal to discriminate in the provision of goods and services on the basis of sexual orientation.

Doctors practising in the UK must be registered with the GMC, and are subject to the SORs.

Medics who breech them can be banned from practising.

Dr Ed Borman, a GMC council member said they are committed to making sure there are no barriers to medical care: “The GMC wants to make sure that all patients can access appropriate healthcare without difficulties.”

The GMC and Stonewall have published a leaflet explaining patients’ rights, and how to complain.