The GPC has written to the GMC to complain about its new prescribing guidance for gender dysphoria patients.
According to the GPC, it places GPs ‘in a difficult position’ by forcing them to prescribe specialist drugs beyond their competence.
The GMC’s Guidance for doctors treating transgender patients advises GPs to consider prescribing ‘bridging prescriptions’ in cases of delays in patients accessing specialist treatment in the NHS, to avoid the harm of self-medication.
But the GPC said it was ’extremely concerning that the GMC is recommending that GPs should consider prescribing medication that is clearly outside their expertise and competence’.
It said that if the NHS was ’denying appropriate access’ to specialist services then the GMC ‘should be highlighting this as a risk to patients which needs to be corrected through appropriate commissioning arrangements’.
In response, the GPC is now also seeking legal advice from indemnity organisations about the risks of complaints following this type of prescribing.
The GPC’s letter said: ’Current guidance is unequivocal that initiating hormonal treatment for patients with gender dysphoria should be done by a specialist as part of a comprehensive assessment process…
‘In the case of gender dysphoria, most GPs will have no previous experience of managing such a patient.
‘Our key concern is to ensure that GPs can prescribe safely within their limits of competence, and this includes the ability to decline to prescribe, where appropriate.’
It said GPs should also be at liberty to decline to prescribe continually under shared-care arrangements unless they volunteered to do so under a specific locally-commissioned service.
It said the GMC guidance placed ’a worrying expectation on any GP, regardless of their competence or knowledge regarding such hormonal treatments, to continue to prescribe specialist medication in this instance’.
Dr Nagpaul is also writing to NHS England regarding their commissioning responsibilities for gender services, ‘so that patients can have access to the specialist treatment they need’.
Prof Terence Stephenson, Chair of the GMC, said: ’Transgender patients have the right to be treated with the same respect, sensitivity and understanding as all patients. As the BMA says: ”there is a legitimate and moral need to ensure that patients with gender dysphoria receive prompt and timely care”.
‘Our new guidance, which is based on national guidelines endorsed by several medical royal colleges, is intended to support doctors with an area of care which we know many find challenging. It is only right that we provide further clarification if necessary and we will respond to the points raised by the BMA as quickly as possible.’