Royal College of GPs launch trailblazing new scheme to help doctors improve their care of queer patients
The UK’s Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has launched a pioneering scheme to improve the quality of care doctors provide LGBT+ patients.
Societal stigmas against queer people can be deadly. Within healthcare, discrimination against LGBT+ people leads to some feeling reluctant to raise concerns or not see their GP altogether.
Across the UK, a growing number of medical agencies have pushed health care providers to simply ask. Don’t assume.
Publicly and privately funded health centres, which treat millions of people each year, have been urged by activists to ask the sexual orientation and gender identities of their patients and better equip themselves with the knowledge they need to treat queer patients.
In doing so, activists argue, healthcare can be sculpted to better identify and address LGBT+ people’s medical needs.
And in a step towards that, the RCGP, in partnership with the Government Equalities Office, launched the online e-suite which is a first-of-its-kind scheme.
Both lawmakers and queer medics have welcomed the scheme, with one doctor hoping it will “begin to break down” the barriers LGBT+ people face.
What is the RCGP scheme?
Consisting of six learning modules, as well as podcasts and screencasts, the hub is designed so that busy GPs can learn in their own time.
Modules range from overviews of health inequalities among the LGBT+ community, how primary care can be made more inclusive, navigating mental health and treating elderly queer patients.
Within the community, more than half have experienced depression and one in seven avoid seeking healthcare in fear of discrimination from staff, according to a report from charity Stonewall.
Such figures are why the RCGP was commissioned by the GEO as one of 13 organisations to deliver the government’s LGBT+ Action Plan.
‘Everyone must be able to access appropriate healthcare,’ says equalities minister.
Dr Anthony James, chair of the RCGP’s Trainee Committee and LGBT+ Steering Group member, said: “For both LGBT+ patients and staff, the healthcare system remains an arena where discrimination can all too often be encountered.
“LGBT+ patients continue to face barriers to accessing care and a lack of awareness as to their specific health needs.
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“Meanwhile too many LGBT+ staff members remain in the closet for fear of prejudice from both colleagues and service users.
“The new LGBT+ Health Hub provides a toolkit for all healthcare professionals to begin to break down these barriers and provide the best possible care to all LGBT+ people.
Equalities minister Baroness Williams said: “Everyone must be able to access appropriate healthcare and be treated with respect no matter their sexuality.
“It’s great medical professionals now have access to these online modules, allowing this vital training to fit around their busy schedules, developing their delivery of LGBT inclusive healthcare.”