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Pride month is important for so many reasons and, even though the world around us has changed completely since last year, it is probably even more important than ever that we mark and celebrate Pride.
Pride is a time for us to reflect on the progress we’ve made towards LGBT equality and to acknowledge the fact that we stand on the shoulders of all those who have fought so hard over the years to achieve this. It is also a time for us to acknowledge that we still have so much more to do.
LGBT people still face unacceptable stigma and discrimination and we continue to see homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the media and on social media. In healthcare LGBT individuals face inequalities in terms of access to services, clinical outcomes and experience and the same applies to the NHS workforce. The NHS Staff Survey demonstrates that lesbian, gay and bisexual staff report worse experiences than their heterosexual colleagues and we don’t, yet, consistently ask these questions of our trans colleagues. It is for this reason that Pride is also an important opportunity for us to show support and solidarity for our LGBT colleagues who, for whatever reason, do not yet feel comfortable enough to be their true selves at work. It is everyone’s responsibility, and not theirs, to make sure they do!
COVID-19 and the lockdown is highlighting and exacerbating existing inequalities in society and this is no different for LGBT individuals. We’ve seen from surveys we’ve done and from work done by LGBT charities that LGBT people are reporting worsening mental health; increased isolation, especially amongst older LGBT people living alone; more people living in hostile home environments, particularly young people living in households which are LGBT-phobic; increasing risk of domestic abuse, family breakdown and homelessness; financial difficulties through loss of earnings; concerns about gender identity service waiting times and cancellation of surgery or treatments and a general need for more information and support to cope with the challenges that COVID-19 has brought.
Now more than ever, therefore, Pride is a time for us to increase our efforts to address all this. There are so many examples of excellent work going on around the country to address LGBT health inequalities. Pride in Practice, run by the LGBT Foundation, works with primary care to improve care for LGBT patients with over 2 million people registered at practices that have worked hard to deliver more LGBT inclusive care. The NHS Rainbow Badge project has now been taken up by over two-thirds of hospital trusts with over 250,000 NHS staff signing up for a badge and pledging to support LGBT patients and LGBT staff networks across the country are doing great work to support both the LGBT workforce and patients. But we need to do more and do it even better! Let’s use this opportunity to make a commitment to ensuring the NHS is a truly inclusive place for all LGBT staff and delivers nothing but excellent care to our LGBT patients.
Having said all this, Pride is also a time for celebration: celebration of the many vibrant, dynamic and powerful LGBT communities and celebration of our unique and wonderfully diverse LGBT workforce.
Whilst COVID-19 and lockdown means we won’t be marching or partying as we would do normally, there are still many ways we can celebrate Pride. Join us for NHS Virtual Pride on Friday 26 June at 6.00pm and find out more by following the team on twitter on @VirtualNHSPride.
Whoever you are, whatever you do and however you mark it I wish you all a very happy Pride 2020!