‘Intrusive’ NHS to question patients on their sexuality

Plans by the NHS to ask patients about their sexuality have been denounced as “very intrusive”.

The new guidance for England, which is not compulsory, recommends that “sexual orientation monitoring occurs at every face to face contact with the patient, where no record of this data already exists”.

It says all patients aged 16 years and over should be asked to reveal their sexual orientation.

Question on sexuality

The options put forward by NHS England include heterosexual or straight, gay or lesbian, bisexual, other and don’t know.

If a patient is asked but declines to provide a response that will also be recorded.

NHS England said the move was to “ensure that no patient is discriminated against”. But added that it would have “no impact” on the care they receive.

‘Very intrusive’

Critics have questioned the need for patients to be asked about their sexuality.

The Chairman of the Family Doctor Association Dr Peter Swinyard said it “is not the place of family doctors, to start monitoring people’s sexuality”.

Former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan cautioned that the plans could be “very intrusive” for patients, adding that for “the majority you wonder why on earth they need to know”.

Her criticism was echoed by former Labour Minister Graham Stringer, who said: “Unless it’s related to your health, your sexuality is not the NHS’s business.”

Stonewall backing

The Sexual Orientation Monitoring: Full Specification document was produced in conjunction with pressure group the LGBT Foundation.

Homosexual lobby group Stonewall welcomed the move and claimed it would help health services to better “understand the needs of LGB people”.

NHS England says it wants all health and social care bodies to be asking the question by April 2019.

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