The NHS has introduced some new controversial guidelines which will mean doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals will ask patients who are aged 16 or over about their sexual orientation.
Whilst the new guidelines applies to everyone aged 16 or over, patients will have the right not to answer the question. The NHS says that by choosing to provide any information regarding sexual orientation, it will not affect any care the patient receives, and “no patient is discriminated”. However some may argue, why should this information provided by the patient matter, if in the end, the care the patient receives is not affected.
Previously, doctors would already know about the sexual orientation of some patients, especially those who were facing a medical condition where sexuality is relevant to it. However, under the newly introduced guidelines, questions about sexuality can be asked by the doctor even if its completely irrelevant to the condition.
The options patients will be able to choose from, regarding their sexual orientation are the following: heterosexual or straight, gay or lesbian, bisexual, other sexual orientation, not sure, not stated and not known.
The new guidelines have had very different responses and opinions from the population, making it a highly controversial topic. Many have been in support of the guidelines, as it will ensure that doctors are aware of other information the patient provides, which can prove to be useful in some situations – particularly regarding mental health conditions a patient faces. This means that if the patient is found later with any medical condition where sexuality is related to it, the information on sexual orientation previously provided by the patient would readily be available on the system, allowing for a more efficient and faster diagnosis and treatment.
On the other hand, many have argued that the question asked can be intrusive. Whilst the option to not state sexuality is still provided, some may be uncomfortable with the whole process of having to choose a particular option.
I see the new guidelines being helpful in particular situations to allow for a more efficient NHS, but is the introduction of these guidelines really that useful and important for the NHS to know?
Let me know what you think by posting your personal opinions in the comments section below, or by emailing me if you have any questions.