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Access To Health Services For Lesbian And Gay People - Essay Example

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Public services such as health care provision have a duty to meet the needs of all of the population on an equal basis, and indeed in the UK there are mechanisms and policies in place which are designed to ensure that this takes place…
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Access To Health Services For Lesbian And Gay People
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Download file to see previous pages There are, however, particular groups which, according to the scholarly literature, appear to be less well served by national provision. This paper explores the way that lesbian and gay people access health services, noting that this group tends to access health services less frequently than the norm, and is less satisfied with healthcare also. It highlights the main issues that have been identified in this area for both health care providers and patients, and reviewing solutions which have been proposed to ensure that this group of patients receive the health care services that they require. It is estimated that between 3 and 6 per cent of patients seen by doctors are gay or lesbian (Bonvicini and Perlin, 2003). If bisexual and transgender people are included, then the percentage rises to around 10% (Lee, 2000). Many of these encounters, however, take place in such a way that the sexual orientation of the patient is not made known to the doctor and so it is likely that the figure may be even higher than this. In fact this problem of invisibility marks one of the main challenges facing healthcare providers at the present time: how to meet the needs of a group which are not always easy to identify, and which may be reluctant to access services which it really needs? (Edwards, 2012). The needs of this very diverse group of patients are often ignored simply because they are not well understood or because the health services are not geared up to the special needs of this group. Furthermore there has been a gradual realisation in recent years that some issues such as the AIDS epidemic have been used to stigmatise gay and lesbian people, even though it is clear that not everyone who has sex with people of the same gender shares a gay or lesbian identity (Meyer, 2001). Definitions are complex, and it takes effort to overcome societal prejudice and offer services which are accessible to all sectors of the population, according to their actual needs. The way that health care providers deal with gay and lesbian patients, is, however, very important for the long term health of these patients. One empirical American study (Paroski, 1987) found that gay and lesbian adolescents acquired their early knowledge about the gay and lesbian lifestyle from a range of formal and informal sources, including contact with healthcare providers. Many of the young people had acquired a stereotypical view about homosexuality from these sources, some of which was negative and harmful to them. This highlights the important education and support role that healthcare providers have. They should be presenting balanced information to young people in a non-judgemental way so that they do not become socialised into negative images of themselves, or of groups who have different sexual orientation than that of themselves. Encounters with the health services can be pivotal experiences for gay and lesbian young people, and negative experiences at this stage can have lasting effects on the willingness that they will have in later life to seek medical help. There have been several studies which have reported general dissatisfaction among gay and lesbian people with the health care that they receive (White and Dull, 1998). This is matched by findings which show that as many health care professionals have trouble talking communicating with non-heterosexual patients. One recent study of 2 GPs in Sheffield found that almost half had difficulty addressing non-heterosexual lifestyle issues and some even displayed openly homophobic attitudes (Hinchliff, 2005). It is not surprising, then, that gay and homosexual patients are often reluctant to be open about their sexual orientation in a primary healthcare setting. The consequences of keeping silent about sexual ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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