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Rainbow flags could be coming to all NHS waiting rooms

Tom Halford January 30, 2018

(Facebook/Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust)

Rainbow flags could be coming to NHS waiting rooms to make patients feel more comfortable.

The British Journal of General Practice has published guidelines to urge more than 50,000 doctors and medical researchers to put Pride flags in the waiting rooms of their practices.

The aim is to encourage individuals to be open with their doctors about their sexuality and feel comfortable talking about any health issues.

(Facebook/Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust)

The study says: “There are some changes that are easily implemented and inexpensive, including displaying signs or symbols that convey an accepting atmosphere, such as a rainbow symbol or the Human Rights Campaign logo.”

GPs are advised to avoid using heteronormative phrases, and to make sure they don’t assume the gender of a patient’s partner or partners.

Instead, the guidelines recommend simply asking patients.

(Facebook/Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust)

Professor Kamila Hawthorne of the Royal College of GPs told the Daily Express: “We want all patients to feel welcome.

“If surgeries find that displaying a rainbow symbol in their practice encourages LGBT patients to seek medical attention when they need it, then that’s a good thing,” she added.

“Patients should never be made to feel as though they have to disclose their sexual orientation to their GP if they don’t want to.”

(Facebook/Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust)

Professor Hawthorne continued: “But at the same time, they should be reassured that anything they discuss with their GP is strictly confidential and that the consultation room is safe space to talk about things which could be affecting their health and wellbeing.”

The study comes after plans were announced last year for NHS surgeries to keep a record of patients’ sexual orientation from 2019, all across England.

Some surgeries have already started doing so.

(Facebook/Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust)

Patients are given options of what they identify with most, including heterosexual, gay or lesbian, bisexual, other sexual, orientation, not sure, not stated and not known.

Last year, LGBT campaigners called for the NHS to keep a record of whether a patient is transgender or non-binary.

TOPSHOT - Two women react during the Gay Pride parade on September 17, 2017 in Belgrade. Serbia's lesbian prime minister on September 17 joined hundreds of activists with rainbow flags for Belgrade's annual gay pride march, an event held under heavy security in the conservative country. Belgrade's first Pride march, in 2001, ended with police firing in the air to disperse anti-gay nationalists and skinheads who stoned and beat participants. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Last October, it was found that the NHS giving PrEP to gay and bisexual men prep would save £1 billion.

Earlier this month, the British Fertility Society called on the NHS to offer free egg storage for transgender men who may wish to become parents in the future.

More: England, Health, NHS, pride flag, UK

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