LGBT Health
NHS Choices

Access to healthcare for LGBTQ+ people

Everyone is entitled to receive good quality healthcare regardless of sexual orientation. You are entitled to the same standard of care as heterosexual and cis people in the NHS.

As an LGBTQ+ person you may be at more risk of certain health conditions. There is evidence that LGBTQ+ people drink and smoke and may be more likely to take recreational drugs (e.g. cannabis). Some LGBTQ+ people have depression, anxiety, self-harm or have problems with eating. This may be because, for some people, being LGBTQ+ still isn’t accepted by friends, family or work colleagues. You have a right to be treated as well as anyone else regardless of your sexual orientation gender identity or expression.

You have the right to be open with your GP and healthcare professionals about your sexual orientation, gender identity or expression to have appropriate care. Many LGBTQ+ people who come out to their GPs and healthcare professionals have a good experience. If you do not have a good experience, for example if you believe you have been discriminated, bullied or harassed on the grounds of sexual orientation,  gender identity or expression you can raise a concern via the Putting Things Right process.

Different ways to access healthcare

If you are worried about being treated less well by your healthcare professional because you are LGBTQ+ you can:

  • Raise a concern through the Putting Things Right process. This will not mean you get worse care.
  • Consider getting your healthcare elsewhere. It may be possible to use different services. For example, Sexual Health clinics are sometimes more sensitive to the sexual health needs of LGBTQ+ people. For details of your nearest Sexual Health Clinic visit Services near you
  • Sometimes, taking a friend or partner with you to an appointment can make a difference. You may feel more confident and you may feel that you get better service with another person there

Should I make a complaint?

The Equality Act legislation means that it is illegal for anyone in the NHS to refuse to treat you or to treat you unfairly because of their prejudice against LGBTQ+ people.

Healthcare professionals not only have a duty to treat you equally but to recognise that your sexual orientation, gender identity or expression may mean that you need different treatment or different care. It might just be acknowledgement of your sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. However it might also be about making assumptions which prevent you getting access to care you need. Subtle discrimination, including assuming everyone is straight or cis, makes it harder for us as LGBTQ+ people to feel comfortable using NHS services. The NHS recognises that this is a problems and is committed to change.

If you are treated badly and want to raise a concern, remember you have a right to do this and will not get worse care as a result. There are also groups who can help you and support you in making a complaint. Stonewall has a list of groups who may support you, see link below.

Remember that as an LGBTQ+ person you have the same right to access to healthcare as everyone else.

Resources

Stonewall information on the Equality Act and what it covers

GLADD is the association of LGBT doctors and dentists

Information on health concerns and discrimination

Research on LGBT health concerns is available at Stonewall Cymru

Unhealthy Attitudes is a report on discrimination in healthcare