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NHS colleagues from across the country are being invited to enjoy an unprecedented online celebration of the LGBT+ community this Friday evening.
To mark the time of year when thousands of people would ordinarily be gearing up for Pride season, the highlight of the LGBT+ calendar, NHS England is hosting its first-ever ‘Virtual Pride’ to celebrate and involve all of its LGBT+ staff and their allies, and have extended the invite to the whole of the NHS.
All LGBT+ staff and allies are welcomed to the event, which is being run on a voluntary basis and is in addition to modified local celebrations across the country.
In previous years NHS staff have joined in Pride marches across the country to celebrate who they are, to showcase the NHS as Europe’s biggest employer of LGBT+ staff, and to stand in solidarity with all those who still face discrimination or feel unable to be open about their sexuality or gender expression at home or at work.
With these events unable to take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, members of the NHS England and NHS Improvement LGBT+ Staff Network and others have given up their spare time and expertise to organise NHS Virtual Pride on Friday 26 June.
The event will be kicked off by the NHS’s chief people officer, and feature music, poetry, DJs, comedy and video messages of support from some familiar faces, and our own NHS People.
Vicky Adamczyk, Chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network, NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “This year is unique as we know, with all our NHS people working incredibly hard in challenging circumstances in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are doing as much as we can as a staff network to provide additional support.
“We’re especially conscious that for some LGBT+ individuals, being at home is not always a happy or safe place to be themselves, which is why it is so important we continue to create inclusive work environments and networks for LGBT+ staff and allies.”
To get involved in the lead up to NHS Virtual Pride please follow @VirtualNHSPride or head to facebook.com/VirtualNHSPride, and use the hashtag #NHSVirtualPride to join the conversation. Friday’s event will begin at 6.00pm.
Dr Michael Brady, National Advisor for LGBT Health, said: “Now more than ever, Pride is a time for us to increase our efforts to address LGBT+ health inequalities and work to improve the experience or our NHS LGBT+ workforce, but we can all do more, and we need to do better.
“While Covid-19 means we won’t be marching and celebrating as we would do normally, there are still many ways to celebrate pride, which is why I’ll be joining those taking part in Virtual Pride this Friday.”
With 2020 being the National Year of the Nurse and Midwife, organisers are particularly keen to highlight LGBT+ nursing and midwifery colleagues, and the event is being run in collaboration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council LGBT+ Staff Network.
Prerana Issar, chief people officer for NHS England, said: “I take huge pride in the fact that our NHS is based on the principle of being there for everyone who needs it – whatever their gender or sexuality – but also its aspiration to welcome people from all walks of life as colleagues, and to champion that diversity.”
“I’m delighted to be able to support this fantastic opportunity for NHS LGBT+ colleagues from across the country to celebrate Pride while also staying safe this weekend, led by members of our LGBT+ Staff Network, and I would encourage as many of our NHS people as possible to join us on Friday night.”
While significant progress has been made towards LGBT+ equality, Pride events take place to raise awareness of ongoing issues that individuals may face, including in healthcare where LGBT+ people face greater inequalities in access, experience and outcomes.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has also shown to have further negative impacts on LGBT+ individuals, as surveys have reported worsening mental health, increased isolation, especially among especially among older people, and more people living in hostile home environments.