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GP guide for supporting trans patients launched

GP in consulting room listening to patient and writing on document

A new online guide for supporting trans patients in GP surgeries has been launched by NHS Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group.

The guide’s introduction follows a Parliamentary inquiry into Transgender Equality in the UK, which last month published a report claiming that:

  • Trans people encounter significant problems when using NHS services due to the attitude of some clinicians and staff;
  • This is attributable to clinicians' lack of knowledge and understanding of trans identities and clinical pathways;
  • GPs in particular too often lack an understanding of the diagnosis of gender dysphoria, referral pathways into Gender Identity Services, and their own role in prescribing hormone treatment.

The CCG’s guide has been developed with input from local transgender people in Brighton and Hove and aims to help GPs and other clinical staff in General Practice support patients accessing NHS Specialist Gender Identity Services.

According to estimates, at least 2,760 trans people live in the city, with many more coming here to study and work.

Last year, Brighton & Hove City Council published the results of the city's first ever Trans Needs Assessment. The report revealed that just 1 in 5 trans people in the city said they were in good health (compared with four out of five in the wider population). Four in five had also experienced depression and one in three had self‐harmed in the last five years. The assessment also identified that improvements could be made to trans people's experience of health services, including local GP and specialist services, and that long waiting times for gender identity services had a detrimental impact on the lives of those affected. The Needs Assessment recommended the development of information for clinicians on support for trans people accessing healthcare in the city.

The experience of approaching a GP for advice and support can be daunting for many transgender people, as local trans patient, Michael, explains:

“When I first went to my GP’s surgery to seek support around my trans identity a number of years ago I was incredibly nervous. The locum GP I saw was, though well meaning, not very well informed. I remember him asking me if I liked cars and football – an entirely surreal line of questioning, unrelated to helping me access the support I needed. I left with an informal diagnosis of ‘metrosexual’ gender identity and (more helpfully) a forward referral which I’d had to instruct him in writing.

“Since then, I’ve been really pleased to see how much work has been done on a local and national level to improve services for trans people, and am proud to have played my small part in some of that work. I’m lucky to have a much more understanding and knowledgeable GP now than I did then, but am so pleased to see this guide being released as it will help all GPs across the city to offer a competent, supportive service to the trans community.

“So often we can find ourselves passed from pillar to post, having to educate those responsible for our care; I hope that this guide can help to relieve that burden – promoting a better standard of understanding, a better standard of communication and a better standard of care for everyone.”

Click here for the GP Trans Guidance Guide

5 things you need to know when you speak to your GP

The CCG has compiled a five‐point checklist for local trans people that addresses some of the concerns and scenarios trans patients may encounter when they visit their GP, drawing on the experiences of local trans patients. Click here for details