New NHS guidelines will mean all health professionals will be told to ask patients about their sexuality, BBC News reports.

The recommendation would only apply to people over the age of 16 and no one will be forced to answer the question.

It's hoped that the changes will prevent discrimination and will have no impact on the actual care people receive, according to an NHS spokeswoman.

She said: "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."

The guidance will include doctors, nurses and any local councils responsible for adult social care. Under the new recommendations they should ask about a person's sexual orientation at "every face to face contact with the patient, where no record of this data already exists".

Patients will be asked to assign themselves to one of the following categories: heterosexual or straight, gay or lesbian, bisexual, other sexual orientation, not sure, not stated and not known.

However, there have been concerns that the guidance could be overly intrusive and even offensive.

The Family Doctor Association said having GPs monitor people's sexuality could be badly received and that, especially among the older generation, it doesn't affect their health.

Chairman Dr Peter Swinyard told the BBC that GPs often already know a patient's sexuality and would ask if it was relevant to their health.

He added: "Given the precious short amount of time a GP has with a patient, sexuality is not relevant."

NHS England says that this data is often already collected but the new guidance will ensure a nationwide standard. It also commented that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people were "disproportionately affected" by poor mental health and risks of self-harm and suicide.

Regardless of sexual orientation, it's important that people practice safe sex to keep themselves protected against STIs.