Posted on Friday 11 October 2019
A Guy's and St Thomas' staff member holding an NHS rainbow badge
Six in ten hospital trusts in England are introducing NHS rainbow badges for their staff to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) patients.
The scheme was developed by Evelina London and rolled out across Guy’s and St Thomas’ in February following a successful pilot at the children’s hospital.
Despite launching less than a year ago, 61% of NHS trusts in England have launched the scheme or are planning to roll it out using a special toolkit developed by Evelina London.
Currently, more than 4,000 Guy’s and St Thomas’ staff, which includes Evelina London Children’s Hospital, are wearing the badge.
In a survey of the Trust’s badge wearers, of those who had a response from staff and patients, nine in ten said it was positive.
The badge is an NHS logo superimposed on the rainbow pride flag and can be worn on lanyards or uniforms. They promote a message of inclusion and are a sign that the wearer is someone you can talk to about issues of sexuality and gender identity.
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 project has been backed by the Department of Health and Social Care, and Strictly Come Dancing star, and former Evelina London paediatrician, Dr Ranj.
Dr Ranj said: “Young LGBT+ people face greater and more complex challenges than their peers, including in healthcare. As health professionals we have a duty to ensure their wellbeing is paramount in all areas of their lives, so we need to create an environment where they can feel comfortable, valued and secure, especially when they need help.
“Small gestures like this mean so much to those that really need it the most, and I am beyond proud to be part of something that progresses the culture and values of the Trust. Now let’s do it across the whole NHS.”
Dr Michael Farquhar, NHS rainbow badge initiative lead and sleep consultant at Evelina London, said: “Since we launched the pilot project at Evelina London a year ago, we’ve been amazed at how brilliantly people have embraced the scheme. During the pilot we developed a toolkit which can be used by any NHS Trust or organisation to launch the scheme and since we released this in February, over 60% of NHS Trusts in England are using it to introduce rainbow badges to their staff.
“Despite improving social attitudes in the UK, LGBT+ people can still face significant barriers to accessing healthcare and this can have a significant impact on physical and mental health.
“Wearing a rainbow NHS badge is a way for our staff to show that the NHS is an open, non-judgemental and inclusive place for LGBT+ people and their families, and that we are here to listen to, and support, them if they need it.
“We are proud that the rainbow NHS badge model is a small part of helping to address those issues and we look forward to building on what we have already achieved, including working with Dr Michael Brady, National Advisor for LGBT Health, and those delivering the NHS England LGBT+ Action Plan, over the next year to continue to be part of the solution.”
Jayne King, head of security and co-chair of the LGBT+ forum at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Equality for both our staff and patients is extremely important to us and the NHS rainbow badge initiative demonstrates our support for the LGBT+ community and our ongoing commitment to promoting inclusion and celebrating diversity.
“NHS staff are in the perfect position to be advocates and supporters for LGBT+ people. Increased awareness of the issues LGBT+ people face when accessing healthcare can make a significant difference to their experiences, and, in turn their physical and mental health.”
Implementation packs are available for other NHS organisations via the Rainbow Badge project team, who can be contacted at RainbowBadge@gstt.nhs.uk
LGBT+ stands for lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and the + means that we are inclusive of all identities, regardless of how people define themselves.
The NHS rainbow badge scheme was funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ charity.
Evelina London is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The hospital was founded in 1869 as Evelina Hospital for Sick Children by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, whose wife, Evelina, died along with their baby in childbirth.