The aim of the national survey is to sustain and improve GP services for LGB people across the country. It will equip healthcare providers, policymakers, campaigners and lesbian, gay and bisexual people themselves to ensure their health needs are being equally taken care of.
In the independent GP Patient Survey 2011 almost 10,000 LGB people responded, reporting that they were approximately twice as likely to rate their GP as poor or very poor, when compared to heterosexual people, across a range of measures.
Figures show that 1 in 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans individuals have avoided using public services for fear of homophobia, and 1 in 5 health care professionals have admitted to being homophobic.*
Dennis Baldwin, GP Project Manager at the LGF comments “sexual orientation is a sensitive issue, but that shouldn’t mean that it is ignored. This isn’t always about asking direct questions about sexual orientation, rather it’s about using appropriate language and not making assumptions about peoples’ sexuality. It is often assumed that LGB patients are heterosexual, often leading to compromising situations, or people feeling compelled to ‘come out’.”
The consultation is part of the LGF’s Pride in Practice initiative which was launched in February 2012 and is a benchmarking tool that identifies GP surgeries who are fully committed to assuring that their lesbian, gay and bisexual patients are treated fairly and able to discuss their issues openly with their GP or healthcare provider.
Jacquie Heywood, Practice Manager at Ancoats Urban Village Medical Practice comments:“We are proud to be one of the pilot surgeries for Pride in Practice, being involved in this project ensures that our services are welcoming to lesbian, gay and bisexual people.”
Pride in Practice draws on the outcomes listed under the NHS North West ‘Equality Performance Improvement Toolkit’ to help surgeries meet their obligations under the equalities legislation. The process involves surgeries undergoing self assessment which are then verified by the LGF, which will help to identify precisely the kind of gaps which can then be addressed to ensure that their surgery is fully accessible to their LGB patients and their needs. GP surgeries across the North East, North West, Yorkshire, the Midlands and London have all taken part in the initiative so far.
Dr. Claire Gerada, Chair of the Royal College of Practitioners has supported the initiative and comments; “I was disappointed to read that 20% of healthcare professionals admitted to being homophobic, and that 1 in 10 LGB&T individuals have avoided using public services for fear of homophobia.”
Dennis Baldwin also points out that the issues aren’t just around sexual health; “lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more likely to experience mental health issues, sexual health concerns, problems with substance misuse, social isolation, discrimination and hate crime. It is therefore essential that the needs of LGB people are considered in helping to overcome these health and social inequalities.”
“It is vitally important that LGB people stand up for their needs and experiences, and have them acknowledged by all healthcare professionals, including GPs. This is why it’s so important that people take part in this survey and make their voices heard.”
Participants who wish to share their experiences of their GP as an LGB patient can complete the online survey by visiting; www.lgf.org.uk/gpexperiences. The survey will close on 15th June.