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Watchdog fails to monitor sexuality in medical malpractice

Watchdog fails to monitor sexuality in medical malpractice

Britain’s watchdog for doctors has admitted it does not carry out proper checks to determine whether lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients are the victims of medical malpractice.

The General Medical Council, which is this week under fire for failing to protect the trans community from mistreatment by doctors, revealed to Gay Star News yesterday (10 January) that it does not carry out Equality Impact Assessments in respect to the origin of complaints about medical practitioners.

That means they are unable to determine directly whether any particular minority group, including LGBT, is suffering from systemic poor practice by GPs or other medical professionals.

‘The GMC has a legal obligation to investigate all complaints that are brought to us,’ a GMC spokesman told GSN.

‘We are committed to doing so in a way which is fair and non-discriminatory to everyone, including the complainants and doctors involved.

‘We are doing more work to understand the increasing number of complaints and the patient perspective: who complains, why they complain, and any barriers to them raising their concerns.

‘We are aware that there are sensitivities around asking complainants to tell us whether they are from one of the protected groups covered by the Equality Act 2010.

‘For some individuals, including those from transgender communities and people undergoing gender reassignment, this can be regarded as intrusive.’

Despite this, the GMC appears to have been taken by surprise by the volume and serious nature of allegations raised about medical practice towards the UK trans community on Twitter’s #TransDocFail hashtag. 

The topic was launched on Monday (7 January) by LGBT activist and Liberal Democrat councillor Sarah Brown, as a counter to news of a GMC investigation of Dr Richard Curtis, one of the few medical practitioners in the UK to provide an alternative to the NHS standard care pathway.

The response was swift, with several thousand tweets, mostly from the UK, detailing a catalogue of bad practice, abusive treatment and alleged negligence by NHS practitioners.

Many commenters have chosen to post anonymously, voicing a fear that has previously acted as a barrier to complaint, that if they make their concerns known publically, their treatment will be stopped.

A selection of #TransDocFail tweets has been collated by LGBT activist and blogger Zoe O’Connell on her site, complicity.co.uk

The GMC responded on Twitter by giving people a link for them to complain about how they have been treated by their doctor.

However, while the website provides specific guidance for lesbian, gay or bisexual patients wishing to make a complaint, it does not include similar guidance for trans patients, nor does the site provide any form of good practice guidance for the treatment of trans patients.