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NHS staff to quiz patients on sexual orientation

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Patients visiting their GPs or hospitals in England for face to face appointments are to be asked about their sexual orientation in new guidelines being issued by the NHS.

For the first time medics are being told to ask patients who are over 16 if they are gay, straight or bisexual under controversial new rules.

The official NHS directive has been sent to Trusts advising them to ask for the personal data from April 2019.

The guidance, published on NHS England’s website last week, states: “We recommend that sexual orientation monitoring occurs at every face to face contact with the patient, where no record of this data already exists.

“The patient will retain the right not to disclose this information, but this response will become part of the record.”

The health service said the move was to keep in line with equality legislation to ensure those who do not identify as heterosexual are treated fairly.

Individual NHS trusts will decide whether to opt out of the move, and patients will not be forced to answer.

People over 16 will be asked: ‘Which of the following best describes how you think of yourself?’ They can say they are ‘straight’, ‘gay or lesbian’, ‘bisexual’ or ‘other’.

Last night NHS England told the Telegraph the guidance was “not mandatory”, adding: “All health bodies and local authorities with responsibility for adult social care are required under the Equality Act to ensure that no patient is discriminated against.

“This information standard is designed to help NHS bodies be compliant with the law by consisting collecting, only where relevant, personal details of patients such as race, sex and sexual orientation. They do not have to do it in every area, people do not have to answer the questions and it will have no impact on the care they receive.”