Don't act 'too gay' if you want to become a doctor, senior GP tells trainees… and if you're Asian, try to sound Welsh or Scottish
Dr Una Coales published a booklet with controversial advice for students on ways to 'neutralise bias' among examinersHer comments caused outrage after they were flagged up by a fellow doctor on Twitter
Dr Coales is now under investigation by the Royal College of General Practitioners – of which she is a senior member
00:19 GMT, 22 September 2012
A senior GP is under investigation for telling gay junior doctors to avoid acting effeminately around patients.
Dr Una Coales said if they deepened their voices and changed the way they walked they would stand a better chance of impressing their examiners.
In a guidebook written for medics sitting clinical skills tests, she advised doctors from Africa and Asia to try speaking in ‘lyrical’ Scottish or Welsh accents if they wanted jobs in those countries.
Dr Una Coales is under investigation after advising medical students to alter their behaviour to 'neutralise bias' from examiners
And she told women doctors not to wear
overly-feminine, flowery dresses – in case patients mistake them for
nurses. Bizarrely, she even advised overweight medical students to
project an ‘image of Santa Claus’ by interlocking their fingers over
Dr Coales is a senior member of the
Royal College of General Practitioners’ Council and earlier this year
narrowly missed out on being elected its president.
She made her comments in a guidebook
for junior doctors sitting their ‘Clinical Skills Assessments’, which
are exams taken in their final year. In one passage, she wrote: ‘One
candidate was facing a third sitting and yet no one had told him that
his mannerisms, gait and speech were too overtly gay.
‘So I advised him to lower and deepen his high-pitched voice and neutralise his body movements.
‘He went back to his surgery,
practised his speech until his voice went hoarse and modified his body
language. Not only did he pass his exam, but he informed me he noticed a
huge difference in the way patients interacted with him.’
She also told women not to wear
flowery dresses because ‘if you dress like a nurse they [patients] have
difficulty believing they are seeing “the doctor”.’
Kenneth Williams in Carry on Doctor: Dr Coales advised one medical student not to appear 'camp' and to walk like a 'straight man'
The Royal College of GPs has now
launched an inquiry into her comments, which have provoked outrage on
the social networking site Twitter. Dr Coales, who trained in America
before becoming a GP in South London, could now be ordered to leave the
Ruth Hunt, director of public affairs
at the gay and equality charity Stonewall, described the advice as an
‘absurd waste of a medical students’ time’.
The Tweet that started the row: Dr Jones highlights Dr Coales controversial advice
Clare Gerada, the Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, makes her opposition to Dr Coales' comments clear
‘The RCGP should be seriously
concerned if those assumptions really are present during medical
students’ instructions and exams.’
Neil Hunt, chief executive of the
College said: ‘The RCGP does not endorse the book, the author did not
write it in her capacity as a member of the RCGP Council, and we reject
the advice given.
‘I have referred the matter to the senior officer team of the College.’
On her website, Dr Coales claims she ‘understands all views because she has lived them’.
She has written several medical revision books as well as guides on how to lose weight.