Six of the ten English hospital trusts are now offering NHS rainbow badges to staff members in support for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender patients (LGBT+).
Evelina London created the scheme and it was launched in Guy’s and St Thomas’s in February after a pilot at the children’s Hospital proved successful.
Even though the scheme was only launched a year ago in England, 61% of NHS trusts have already implemented it or plan to use a special toolkit that Evelina London developed.
More than 4,000 Guy’s staff and St Thomas’ staff currently wear the badge, which also includes Evelina London Children’s Hospital.
A survey of Trust badge wearers revealed that nine out of ten respondents said they received a positive response from both staff and patients.
The badge displays the NHS logo overlaid on the rainbow pride banner and can be worn on uniforms or lanyards. They encourage inclusion and signal that someone can be reached for help with issues related to gender identity and sexuality.
The badge is given to staff when they sign up to wear it. It includes information about the barriers LGBT+ may face to accessing healthcare, as well as how they can support them.
Stonewall’s survey revealed that nearly one in four LGBT+ people have seen healthcare workers make discriminatory remarks about LGBT+ people.
Dr Ranj, an Evelina London paediatrician and former Department of Health and Social Care star, has backed the project.
Dr Ranj said that “young LGBT+ individuals face greater and more complicated challenges than their peers, even in healthcare.” As health professionals, our duty is to ensure that their wellbeing is paramount in all aspects. We must create an environment where they feel safe, valued, and secure, especially when they require help.
“Small acts of kindness like these mean so much for those who truly need it most. It is an incredible honor to be part of something which advances the culture of the Trust and its values. Let’s do this across the whole NHS.
Dr Michael Farquhar (lead of the NHS rainbow-badge initiative and Evelina London sleep consultant) said: “Since our pilot project at Evelina London was launched a year ago we’ve been amazed by how enthusiastic people have taken to the scheme. The toolkit can be used to launch the scheme by any NHS Trust or organization. We released it in February and over 60% of NHS Trusts have adopted it.
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“Despite the improvement in social attitudes in Britain, LGBT+ people may still face significant obstacles to accessing healthcare. This can have a major impact on mental and physical health.
“A rainbow NHS badge signifies to our staff that the NHS is open, nonjudgmental, inclusive place for LGBT+ persons and their families. It also shows that we are available to listen to and support them if necessary.
“We are proud that our rainbow NHS badge model was a small part in helping to address these issues. We look forward to building upon what we have achieved, including working alongside Dr Michael Brady, National Advisor on LGBT Health, as well as those delivering the NHS England LGBT+ Action Plan over the next 12 months to continue being part of the solution.”
Jayne King (head of security, co-chairing the LGBT+ forum at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust) stated that “Equality for both staff and patients is extremely important for us. The NHS Rainbow badge initiative demonstrates how we support the LGBT+ communities and our ongoing commitment toward promoting inclusion and celebrating differences.
“NHS staff are well-positioned to advocate and support LGBT+ persons. A greater awareness of the difficulties LGBT+ people have accessing healthcare can make an important difference in their experience and, consequently, their physical and psychological health.