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Can a patient insist that she gets to see a female GP?

We have a patient who is requesting a change to one of our female doctors. However, they both have full lists and I wrote to the patient explaining that this was not possible at this time and if she insisted on having a female doctor she would need to change to another practice. She is refusing to do this and insists she has the right to see a female doctor. In practice we always allow patients registered with a male doctor to see one of the female doctors for a specific problem. Does this patient have the right to insist on an internal practice transfer?

No patient has the right to demand an internal transfer and if this does not suit your practice staffing arrangements and individual list vacancies you are not obliged to comply with her request.

In fact the new contract will mean that in future patients will in any case be registered with the practice and not with an individual GP.

If the practice can cope, and the patient and practice are happy to accept the arrangement, your current policy of allowing her to see a female doctor on the occasions when she particularly wishes to do so would seem a reasonable compromise.

But she cannot now, or in future, demand to see the doctor of her choice at any time, nor can she require a particular doctor to visit. Indeed, in the future it is quite possible that part of the GP's current caseload will be delegated to an appropriately qualified and trained nurse/ pharmacist/physiotherapist and so on, so the requirement to see a doctor at all may change.

Dr Christine Dewbury, Wessex LMCs

Neither Pulse nor Wessex LMCs can accept any legal liability in respect of the answers given. Readers should seek independent advice before acting on the information concerned.

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