Rainbow Badges across the NHS

Last year, the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, part of Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust, became the first hospital in the UK to offer staff the opportunity to wear NHS Rainbow badges, which send a message to people who identify as LGBT+ that the hospital is an inclusive place that welcomes everyone.

LGBT+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and the plus means we are inclusive of everyone regardless of how people identify themselves.

Over a third of Evelina London staff have now signed up to the initiative, which is totally a matter of individual choice. Most people who choose to wear the badge don’t identify as LGBT+ themselves but are prepared to take on the responsibility of listening and providing support to people in their care without prejudice or prior judgement. There are also online tools and resources available to help guide them but the main criteria is being a receptive person.

Over a third of Evelina London staff have now signed up to the initiative, which is totally a matter of individual choice. Most people who choose to wear the badge don’t identify as LGBT+ themselves but are prepared to take on the responsibility of listening and providing support to people in their care without prejudice or prior judgement. There are also online tools and resources available to help guide them but the main criteria is being a receptive person.

Dr Michael Farquhar is a paediatrician based at Evelina London who focuses on helping children and young people with sleep disorders. “From my personal perspective, over the last 20 years, things have improved for kids who identify as LGBT+ plus, but there are still lots of problems. Teenagers who identify as LGBT+ are more likely to suffer from mental health problems than their peers and are more likely to attempt suicide than the population as a whole. You just have to look at the TV and the protests outside schools in Birmingham to see that there is a still a very negative attitude towards people who differ from the accepted norm.”

“I’m really glad that I played a part in launching the NHS Rainbow badge initiative, which has already been rolled out in around 25 per cent of NHS hospitals, because it is something which is really needed. We know from research that LGBT+ people do face prejudice when they try and access NHS services. In fact, one in seven LGBT+ people would choose not to access healthcare at all because of concerns about the attitudes and discrimination they may face.”

Data from Stonewall found that around a quarter of NHS staff have heard their colleagues make negative remarks about LGBT+ people. There are still people in the NHS who talk about gay conversion therapy as an option. Transpeople can also find very negative attitudes when they seek help, which may undermine the quality of care they receive.

NHS Rainbow badges are a small step in the right direction. They can’t make everything perfect, but they can signal positive change towards a fairer, more equitable health service for all.

Dr Michael Farquhar will be among the speakers at the upcoming inaugural Pride in Medicine: LGBTQ+ medicine day to be held at the Royal Society of Medicine on June 29th 2019. 

Hippocratic Post

The Hippocratic Editorial and VT team. Please send your suggestions to [email protected]
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