Hundreds of thousands of NHS staff are set to join Pride celebrations across the country this weekend and throughout summer.
Ahead of London Pride today (Saturday) the NHS has confirmed that more than 200 hospitals are launching dedicated schemes that support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) communities.
As many as 150,000 doctors, nurses, cleaners, surgeons, midwives and other health service staff are taking up a new Rainbow Badge initiative which gives staff the opportunity to show their support for LGBT+ patients and staff.
The badge, being adopted in around one in three of England’s acute trusts, is a simple image of an NHS logo superimposed on the rainbow pride flag, which can be worn on NHS staff lanyards or on uniforms.
As well as showing support for Pride, the programme will deliver practical toolkits to hospitals, developed by Evelina London, which will help staff to support LGBT+ people to access the right services, following news last week that around 50,000 LGB women had never been for cervical screening due to misleading information, often found online.
Earlier this week NHS England and NHS Improvement Chief Executive Simon Stevens showed his support for LGBT+ NHS staff and the wider community, meeting with the NHS’s LGBT+ Staff Network to discuss what more the NHS can do to improve care and support for patients and staff.
NHS chief executive, Simon Stevens, said: “We’re proud to support our NHS LGBT+ Staff Network and colleagues from across the country who are marching at London Pride this weekend, and at other Pride events over summer.
“The NHS at its best is the real world expression of equality and inclusion. Whoever you are and whoever you love: a health service there when you need it. And as probably the biggest employer of LGBT+ people in Europe: an NHS that welcomes to our team all who bring dedication and skill and compassion.
“I know that – for these reasons and more – our NHS banners, flags and t-shirts have been front and centre among Pride marchers over the last couple of years, and I’m sure that’ll rightly be the case again this weekend.”
NHS staff will be wearing the Rainbow Badge throughout the year, which will:
- Help patients identify staff they can talk to about health and wellbeing issues relating to gender and sexuality
- Tell patients and colleagues that the member of staff will signpost them to resources to explain LGBT+ health issues
- Will help to break down barriers LGBT+ people face when accessing healthcare, for example, getting regular cancer screening
Dr. Michael Brady, the new NHS National LGBT Health Advisor, said: “Every single part of our NHS should be a place where LGBT+ people are accepted and respected.
“The Rainbow Badge scheme is a brilliant push by hard-working NHS staff, as part of our Long Term Plan for the health service, to show how much the LGBT+ community – patients and staff – is valued.
“This weekend I’ll be joining thousands of others taking part in London Pride, but also taking pride in the diversity of our workforce and the fact that our health service is there for everyone throughout the year – whatever their gender or sexuality.”
Staff wanting to be part of the project are provided with information explaining some of the barriers to healthcare that LGBT+ people face so that they are aware of the different health needs of LGBT+ people and can signpost to help if needed.
The NHS Long Term Plan commits to tackling some of the drivers of health problems faced by specific communities, including LGBT+ people.
The Rainbow Badge scheme was pioneered by Dr Michael Farquhar, a consultant in sleep medicine at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, who introduced the scheme as part of a wider commitment to address LGBT+ healthcare challenges.
Guy’s and St Thomas’, which includes Evelina London, was the first Trust in England to introduce the scheme to its staff.
Dr Michael Farquhar said: “Although we’ve seen major improvements over the last 20 years in the UK, we know that there are still many challenges facing LGBT+ people.
“As a paediatrician, I’m very aware that LGBT+ young people, often still finding their own sense of self and identity, can feel they have no-one they can confidently talk to about issues relating to sexuality.
“We developed the Rainbow NHS badge model at Evelina London Children’s Hospital to signal to LGBT+ people using our services that those wearing the badge are good people to talk to about these issues, but also to help challenge some of the negative attitudes towards LGBT+ people which research has shown sadly still persist across the NHS. More personally, I know how much seeing simple visible symbols of support would have meant to me as a gay teenager.”
As well as the Rainbow Badge scheme, other NHS England trusts across the country are introducing schemes to focus on inclusion of the LGBT+ community.