Senior GP advises students to act ‘less gay’

Publish Date: 21/09/2012

The guide  as explained in Patrick Strudwick's article in The Independent was written in order to help minority candidates ‘neutralize bias’ whilst in exams. In one passage, Dr Coales writes: "One candidate was facing a third sitting and yet no one had told him that his mannerisms, gait and speech were too overtly gay, and that he was sitting an exam administered by a right-wing conservative Royal College."

"So I advised him to lower and deepen his high-pitched voice and neutralize his body movements. He went back to his surgery, practiced his speech until his voice went hoarse and modified his body language. Not only did he pass his exam, but he informed me he noticed a huge difference in the way patients interacted with him."

The RCGP's chief executive, Neil Hunt has stated "The RCGP does not endorse the book, the author did not write it in her capacity as a member of the RCGP Council, and we reject the advice given".

In a statement following her investigation, Dr Una Coales states that: "I'm not for a minute suggesting the college is racist or homophobic. These are merely tips to neutralize subjective bias, if any, in 10-minute assessments involving a total of 26 random actors and examiners who have never met the candidate.”

However well meaning the guide may have been intended to be, the advice given is still concerning, as it  shows that there is still a major issue with discrimination and inequality within the healthcare profession against LGB people.

Last year, the LGF interviewed Dr Christian Jessen, from the TV show Embarrassing Bodies. We asked how he found medical school as a gay man. He stated: “I was lucky as I studied in London and quickly went into sexual health and HIV where most doctors are open-minded.

I did notice however that in some areas, particularly older doctors’ attitudes, could be quite shocking with regards to homophobia, especially with openly gay students.”

Dr.Jessen is one of the many supporters of Pride in Practice, the benchmarking tool that identifies GP surgeries that are fully committed to assuring that their lesbian, gay and bisexual patients are treated fairly and able to discuss their issues openly with their GP or healthcare provider.

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