Posted on Thursday 6 June 2019
Dr Michael Farquhar at the Proud Scotland Awards
A Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust doctor has won a prestigious national award for spearheading the NHS rainbow badges scheme.
Dr Michael Farquhar, sleep consultant at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, won the Inspiration Award at the inaugural Proud Scotland Awards.
The NHS rainbow badges scheme was led by Dr Farquhar and rolled out across the Trust in February during LGBT history month.
Despite only launching around three months ago, more than 3,000 Guy’s and St Thomas’ staff are already wearing the badge and around one in four trusts in England have also launched the scheme or are planning to roll it out using a special toolkit developed by Evelina London.
Dr Michael Farquhar, who was born and raised in Scotland, and trained and worked in the Scottish NHS for the first 12 years of his career, said: “I’m absolutely honoured and delighted to have won this very prestigious award. Growing up in the Highlands and Aberdeenshire, the younger me would have thought something like this simply impossible.
“The attitude to LGBT+ people in the 1980s and early 1990s was generally hostile, which had a profound impact on me as a child and young man. Though thankfully attitudes have significantly improved, there is still work to do.
“LGBT+ people can still face significant barriers to accessing healthcare and this can have a detrimental impact on their physical and mental health.
“I was inspired to develop the NHS rainbow badges to support LGBT+ children and young people who are still exploring their sense of self and may be afraid to disclose their sexuality. The badges help to reduce discrimination and stigma and show our LGBT+ patients that we are there for them in every way.
“We have had very positive conversations with both the Scottish and Welsh governments about the badges so I’m very hopeful that the scheme will eventually be rolled out across the UK.”
The badge is an NHS logo superimposed on the rainbow pride flag and can be worn on lanyards or uniforms.
When staff sign up to wear the badge they are provided with information about the challenges people who identify as LGBT+ can face accessing healthcare and what they can do to support them.
A Stonewall survey found that one in seven LGBT+ people have avoided medical treatment for fear of discrimination, and almost one in four have witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBT+ people by healthcare staff.
The Proud Scotland Awards celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and recognises Scottish people who promote equality and diversity.
The Inspiration Award was shared jointly with Professor Maggie Kinloch, former deputy principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.