Evelina London Children’s Hospital and community services have introduced NHS rainbow badges for its staff to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) patients.
The scheme at Evelina London, which is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’, is now being rolled out across the Trust, following a successful pilot at the children’s hospital, launched last October.
The move follows a recent Stonewall survey that found that one in seven (14%) of LGBT people have avoided medical treatment for fear of discrimination and almost one in four (23%) have witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBT people by healthcare staff. It also coincides with LGBT history month this February.
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.
The hospital has also created a toolkit to support and encourage other NHS organisations to implement the scheme. More than 100 clinical commissioning groups, GP surgeries and hospitals from across the country have already expressed an interest in rolling it out.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said, “Every patient and everyone who works in the NHS should feel welcomed by the NHS, regardless of their gender identity, race or sexual orientation.
“I love wearing my rainbow badge and I wear it with pride. I’m delighted to see Evelina London rolling out this fantastic initiative, to ensure no one feels alone or faces prejudice.”
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!”
The NHS rainbow badge initiative is supported by the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, which provides funding for projects across Guy’s and St Thomas’.
Dr Michael Farquhar, NHS rainbow badge initiative lead and sleep consultant at Evelina London, said, “Despite improving social attitudes in the UK, LGBT+ people can still face significant barriers to accessing healthcare and this can have a detrimental impact on physical and mental health
“Wearing a NHS rainbow badge is a way for our staff to show that Evelina London is an open, non-judgemental and inclusive place for children, young people and their families who identify as LGBT+ and that we are here for them in every way.
“It was really important to us that the badge is meaningful, which is why when staff sign up to wear one they are provided with information about LGBT+ health inequalities and ways that they can help to tackle them.
“The initiative has already led to many extremely positive conversations between our staff and patients. We really hope that our toolkit will encourage other NHS organisations to introduce rainbow badges as they can play a valuable part in reducing stigma and inequality.”
Since the scheme launched almost a third (32%) of Evelina London staff have signed up to wear the badge. A target of 25% was set to combat the Stonewall statistic that almost a quarter of NHS staff have heard their colleagues make a negative remark about LGBT+ people.
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.”