NHS to Quiz Over 16's on Sexuality

Published on by Hope Smyth (author)

By April 2019, every NHS health professional in England will be required to ask their patients to declare their sexuality, although some GP's and hospitals already do.

A spokeswoman for NHS England insists that "consistently collecting, only where relevant, personal details pf patients such as race, sex and sexual orientation" will help to comply with equality legislation. 

However, not everyone agrees that a patients sexuality is relevant. Dr Peter Swinyard, Chairman of the Family Doctor Association has said it could be "potentially intrusive and offensive" to monitor people's sexual orientation. 

According to the new guidelines, patients will be asked "Which of the following options best describes how you think of yourself?"

There will then be a section of tick box options including heterosexual, gay or lesbian, bisexual or other and; not sure, not stated or not know.

Dr Swinyard believes sexuality "doesn't affect health outcomes or care" and "Given the precious short amount of time a GP has with a patient, sexuality is not relevant."

In the past, sexuality questions were mainly raised in relation to sexual health. It was also the hospital or clinics own preference whether they deemed the information relevant enough to quiz patients and a patients decision whether or not to share the information. 

NHS England has stated "the patient will retain the right not to disclose this information, but this response will become part of the record (similar to that which is done with recording ethnicity)."

This means, even if the patient opts for not sure, not stated or not known, that answer will be saved in the system as their defined sexual orientation. 

Clair Fox, a panellist on BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze, said "The state has got no business in our bedrooms. Tell a 16 year old to define their sexuality and it immediately forces them into a box. The whole point of the sexual revolution was to remove the box."

 aThe guidance will be applied to local councils responsible adult social care as well as doctors and nurses. 

The NHS did acknowledge that it "might not be relevant" when a patient was in a casualty department needing urgent treatment. 

This is what the Hastings public had to say on the relevance of the new guidelines.

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