Rainbow flags could be coming to all NHS waiting rooms
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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Some surgeries have already started doing so.
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.