Dr. Helen Wall

GP Partner/Trainer at Drs Page, McMillen, Tomkinson, Wall & Pratheepan, Crompton Health Centre, GP Board Member, Interim Clinical Director of Commissioning, Clinical Lead for Women’s and Children at Bolton CCG

I think we need to improve LGBT awareness across all parts of our system, not just primary care. I was surprised to learn how many LGBT patients recalled a bad experience with healthcare services due to their sexual orientation. It is genuinely not something I thought caring professionals would be awkward about or express any prejudice against.

As a healthcare professional and as a practice we constantly strive to ensure all our patients have an empathic and quality experience regardless of race, age, gender or sexual orientation. We can only do this by listening to our patient’s and understanding their needs.

I often find that patients may seem nervous or embarrassed when they first mention they are in the LGBT community.

They shouldn’t have to feel like that until this point but I understand that they do.When I don’t look shocked or awkward, the relief in the room is often palpable and you can see them visibly relax.

I genuinely don’t feel any of our staff had negativity towards LGBT patients prior to the Pride in Practice training but I think quite a few may have felt awkward or embarrassed about addressing the issue or not really having thought about these things in any depth which in turn gives a patient a poor experience.

I feel our training gave all our staff an opportunity to really feel confident in addressing issues such as not assuming a patient wants a female or male chaperone.

Having the Pride in Practice plaque up at reception, tells our patients we are invested in supporting patients from this community. It gives a clear message of our intent and our investment to staff and patients.