NHS Dental patients: How should practices record the details of patients undergoing gender reassignment?
For the first time in 2021 the Census asked a question of the UK population (over 16 years old) regarding gender at birth, in an attempt to better understand the size of the transgender population in the UK. The following question was asked:
“Is the gender you identify with the same as your sex registered at birth?”
Overall, 45.7 million (94.0% of the population aged 16 years and over) answered the question.
o In total, 45.4 million (93.5%) answered “Yes”
o 262,000 (0.5%) answered “No”.
o The remaining 2.9 million (6.0%) did not answer.
The data showed interesting variations according to regions. For example, those in London were more likely to report having a different gender identity than those in Somerset. This may suggest that the actual figures are higher, but there is a general reluctance in less urban areas to report this.
In light of this growing acknowledgement and understanding of the transgender community, it is essential that dental practices gain a better appreciation of how to manage their individual needs. In particular, when a patient is undergoing gender reassignment, there may come a time when they wish their personal details, such as their name, to be different to their official identification documents.
When a patient is undergoing gender reassignment, there may come a time when they wish their name to be different to their official documents.
So, if a patient has not yet legally changed their name, what are the requirements with regards to documentation?
Name change documentation
It is up to the dental practice to define its own procedures on asking patients for documentary evidence of a name change. There is no requirement on a dental practice to ask for evidence, but it is best practice to do so.
Consider carefully whether current policies regarding patient identification will adversely affect transgender patients. Consider what reasonable adjustments can be made to ensure that transgender patients are not inadvertently excluded from the practice as a result of overly rigid policies. However, there may be occasions where such polies are justifiable, for example where it is necessary to have identification to apply for finance, or undertake money laundering checks.
Recording a patient’s gender
This poses certain difficulties for NHS dental practices. The FP17 Form requires that a patient’s gender be recorded. Guidance on completing the FP17 form states that a patient’s gender should be their sex at birth.
This clearly contradicts with there being no requirement on dental practices to obtain evidence of a patient’s name change. Practices should act with sensitivity when requesting this information. A dental practice may wish to request information on a patient’s sex at birth upon registration, so that it can be used on the FP17 form.
- Always act sensitively when requesting information on a patient’s gender
- When a patient is registering, provide a questionnaire requesting both their gender at birth and their gender as identified. Make it clear why the information is required.
- If a patient wishes to change their name, you can request documentary evidence of the change but are not required to do so
- Keep a record of a patient’s preferred name
- Ensure that staff are trained and understand the potential for discrimination should a patient’s wishes be disregarded.
If you would like advice on patient record keeping, please call the team on 0207 388 1658 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katherine Hughes, Trainee Solicitor
Please note that the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing. There may have been updates to the law since the article was written which may affect the information and advice given therein.