Dr. Luke Wookey
GP Partner and Clinical Lead for Indigo Gender Service, Fairfax Group Practice, Prestwich Health Centre
People that are LGBT may often feel isolated and marginalised in society and can face certain health inequalities.
By understanding the potential impact these factors can have on people’s mental and physical health we are better placed in primary care to be able to signpost and support people that may sometimes feel overlooked. However, it is important to recognise that everyone’s needs are different and therefore patients are given individualised and personalised care depending on their situation.
Patients want to know that they have been listened to, understood and taken seriously. Therefore, in primary care it is often important to get a wider understanding of someone’s personal and social life which often impacts on their physical and mental health.
By acknowledging someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, it allows clinicians to build relationships on mutual respect and be better placed to deal with their concerns and fears. Pride in Practice has enabled a lot of positive change within our practice. From sexual orientation and trans status monitoring to training and support to all the practice team around LGBT issues. We don’t always get it right, but everyone is willing to learn and educate themselves to be able to better support patients including for example, around name and gender mark change for trans people.
Sadly, many LGBT people, including myself, do not feel as if we are equal in society. Although there have been improvements in us being accepted and acknowledged there are still many hurdles to overcome before there is true equality both socially, medically and in the eyes of the law. This is especially true for trans and non-binary people who must feel supported and deserve healthcare professionals to be able to understand their needs and provide ongoing care. Many patients have told us they have joined our practice because we have the Pride in Practice award. Having an award means a lot to the whole team but it is also a reminder that we must keep working and changing practice to improve the lives of marginalised groups.
Social prescribing has been a helpful addition to services that we provide for patients. Within Bury, the Beacon service has been actively engaging with practices to offer specific support to LGBT patients. It has been a pleasure to work with them to promote self-care and give people an opportunity to connect with organisations or services that many were previously unaware of.