Dr leads discussion on LGBTQI+ health

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Invercargill GP Dr David Sar Shalom (left) and artist Ari Edgecombe lead a workshop to help general practice teams better understand the health needs of LGBTQI+ and to deliver appropriate, culturally-safe care.

AN Invercargill doctor is worried patients in the LGBTQI+ community are not receiving proper health care because they feel uncomfortable with the process.

GP Dr David Sar Shalom wanted to start a discussion with medical staff for them to have a better understanding of the health needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and Intersex people and to deliver appropriate and culturally-safe care.

With help of artist Ari Edgecombe, Dr Sar Shalom promoted the workshop Let’s Make it perfectly queer! for about 30 medical staff in Invercargill this week.

“It is a very good way to look into our actions and understand how it can impact other people.

“There is quite a bit of lack of knowledge about even the basic things like terms, what the pronouns and acronyms mean… so we thought it would be important to do an introduction to get people to see that is not this scary thing and that it’s actually very exciting,” Dr Sar Shalom said.

Mr Edgecombe spoke about his personal experience of the health care system.

He could not recall any personal bad experiences, but he was aware of many people who had.

“Our social history is full of those stories which makes me unbearably sad and wanting some change.”

Dr Sar Shalom said there were a lot of people who would like to talk to their GP freely, but they did not feel comfortable or did not know how to bring their gender up during a consultation.

“Having that possibility to talk in a completely confidential appointment about what is your gender, what that means for you… It is the start of a conversation that might be beneficial not just [for the patients’] physical health but for their mental health.”

The event was sponsored by Well South and medical director Dr Stephen Graham said it was fortunate to have the guidance.

“Understanding and trust are at the heart of a relationship between general practice and patients and the LGBTQI+ community is no different.”

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