Your rights as lesbian, gay, bi and trans patients
Doctors, and the whole healthcare system, continue to be under intense pressure due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Doctors are expected to do their best in extraordinary circumstances to deliver good care and follow our guidance. This includes treating all patients with dignity and respect, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
All patients must be able to trust doctors with their lives and health.
This General Medical Council guide explains the standards that lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) patients should expect from their doctor; what we're doing to support LGBT patients; and information about organisations that provide advice or advocacy services.
Standards for your doctor
Our core guidance Good medical practice sets out the standards expected of all doctors. These include the principles of good care and how doctors can build an effective partnership with you.
The guidance is clear that doctors must:
- treat you fairly, without discrimination
- work with you to reach decisions about your treatment and care that are right for you
- respect your confidentiality and protect your personal information from improper disclosure.
They must not:
- deny you access to appropriate treatment or services because of their personal beliefs (eg about your sexual orientation, gender identity or trans status)
- express their personal beliefs, including political, religious and moral beliefs, in a way that is likely to cause you distress.
What are the GMC doing to support LGBT patients?
Standards for doctors
We set the standards that all doctors must follow. In our Personal beliefs and medical practice and Good medical practice guidance, we say that doctors must treat you fairly and without discrimination, whatever your sexual orientation, gender identity or trans status.
We also say that doctors must not deny you access to appropriate treatment or services because of their personal beliefs. And they must be careful not to express their personal beliefs in a way that is likely to cause you distress.
On our Trans healthcare pages we provide advice and tips for doctors on how to make their practice more inclusive.
Working with LGBT patients
Our outreach teams work with LGBT patients to better understand the health needs you face. We also involve LGBT groups in our policy work to make sure it reflects your needs and concerns. During our consultation into how patient feedback is used in revalidation, we worked with the LGBT Foundation to understand patients’ fears around giving feedback about their doctor. We also work with expert organisations such as Stonewall and GLADD (The Association of LGBT Doctors and Dentists) to make sure our work reflects issues facing LGBT patients.
Education and assessments
Our outreach teams incorporate LGBT scenarios into their teaching sessions with doctors. For example, we use a scenario of a doctor discriminating against a gay person as part of our leadership and management guidance session.
We also include questions involving LGBT patients in our tests for doctors who qualified abroad and want to work in the UK.
Complaints about patient care
We take seriously any allegation that a doctor has failed to follow our guidance and will look into all concerns raised with us. We collect data on the complaints we receive, including those related to a doctor discriminating against a patient due to them being LGBT.
What to do if you’re concerned about your care
The majority of doctors treat their patients with courtesy and respect. But if you feel that a doctor has discriminated against you or treated you differently because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you have the right to complain.
Organisations need to know who you are to consider your concerns fully. It's your decision to disclose whether you're LGBT. If you do, it might provide useful context.
Raising a concern locally
You should raise these issues with the organisation where you received treatment first. Most issues can be settled locally.
Raising a concern with the GMC
If a doctor poses a serious risk to patients, or their actions are likely to undermine public confidence in the medical profession, then we may need to step in. Where we think a doctor may not be fit to practise we can place restrictions on their registration or stop them from practising.