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#GPnews: Knowing patients’ sexual orientation ‘helpful’ to GPs, says RCGP chair

16:00 A leading GP has defended the new NHS England guidance which says GPs should ask all patients if they are straight, gay or lesbian.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard has said it is ‘certainly helpful for a GP to know’ their patients’ sexual orientation as it ‘can potentially have an impact on some aspects of their healthcare’.

But, like NHS England itself has also said will be the case, she said ‘it should always be a patient’s choice whether they disclose this information’.

Professor Stokes-Lampard added: ‘We would like to reassure patients that any information they tell their GP is completely confidential, and we are highly trained to have non-judgemental conversations about all issues that might be affecting their health and wellbeing, so we would encourage our patients to disclose anything that they think may be relevant.’

09:50 At the time of writing, over 42,000 people have signed a petition against proposals for patients to require a referral to visit A&E.

As revealed exclusively by Pulse last week, a senior NHS England official said they may trial a ‘talk before you walk’ scheme requiring patients not arriving via ambulance to be referred or speak with a GP or other clinician before attending A&E.

The petition, promoted by campaign group 38 Degrees, calls on health secretary Jeremy Hunt to ‘rule out any plans that would require patients see their GP or call 111 before being allowed to visit A&E’.

It adds: ‘Extreme measures like these are only being considered because our NHS is at breaking point. A huge petition will show that these new proposals are unacceptable, and convince Jeremy Hunt to drop the idea before it’s trialled.’

NHS England and the Department of Health said in official statements that they have no plans to bring the proposals to a pilot.

NHS England has also ‘sincerely apologised’ to Pulse for initially claiming the story was false.

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