Staff at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust have been signing up to wear a Rainbow NHS Badge to show their support for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ+).
The Rainbow Badge initiative gives staff a way to show that our hospitals and community services offer open, non-judgemental and inclusive care for all patients, their loved ones and carers who identify as LGBTQ+ (the + simply means that we are inclusive of all identities, regardless of how people define themselves).
Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles said: “As a caring organisation that sees almost a million patients every year, it's absolutely vital that everyone who comes through our doors (whether a patient, visitor or member of staff) feels reassured that they will be treated fairly and without judgement – no matter their background or circumstances.
“That's why I am so delighted that we have taken delivery of the Rainbow NHS Badges and the response from staff has been so overwhelmingly positive. In little over a week, more than 700 staff have signed the pledge and are now wearing the badge with pride.
“Some people might wonder why, in 2019, the Rainbow Badge is such a valuable and needed symbol, but the sad fact is that LGBTQ+ patients do face inequalities in their experience of NHS care.”
A recent Stonewall survey (published November 2018) estimates that one in five LGBTQ+ people are not out to any healthcare professional about their sexual orientation when seeking general medical care, and one in seven LGBTQ+ people have avoided treatment for fear of discrimination.
Director of Communications and Patient Experience, Lisa Thomson, said: “I am absolutely delighted that well over 700 staff have already made a pledge to actively support LGBT+ patients, visitors and colleagues with many more still signing up.
“By choosing to wear a Rainbow Badge, our staff are sending a message that says “you can talk to me". They won’t necessarily have all the answers to people's issues and concerns but it does mean that they will be a friendly ear, and will know how to signpost people to the support available. I hope all of our patients know that Epsom and St Helier is an inclusive organisation, and whenever you see the rainbow pin badge, you can be sure that we will offer support and a non-judgemental ear.”
The roll out of the Rainbow Badge initiative coincided with the official launch of the new LGBTQ+ Staff Network on Friday 30 August. Staff – whether a member of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally – were warmly welcomed with guest speakers, a Q&A session and refreshments. Daniel, who was at the official launch, said: “It was great to be a part of the official launch of our new LGBTQ+ Network and I know it will go from strength to strength!”