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NHS Rainbow Badges – play your part promoting LGBT inclusion in healthcare

You might have seen NHS Rainbow Badges when accessing health services or your TV screens over the last few years.

These badges started as an initiative at Evelina London Children's Hospital to make a positive difference by promoting a message of LGBT+ inclusion and have been taken up by hospitals and health services across the NHS as just one way of showing that these services aim to be open, non-judgemental and inclusive places for LGBT+ people. 

And we’re pleased to say that we at Stonewall and the LGBT Foundation will be working in partnership with NHS England, with support from Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard, LGBT Consortium, and GLADD (The Association of LGBT Doctors and Dentists), to take the NHS Rainbow Badges to the next level with a new scheme to benchmark and award NHS organisations for their work on LGBT+ inclusion. 

LGBT+ people experience a range of health inequalities throughout their life course which mean they are more likely to need to access healthcare services. These health inequalities are often exacerbated by the barriers that people face when accessing services to treat or support them. This includes things such as a lack of understanding and training on how to properly treat or care for the person, or discrimination or a perception of potential discrimination based on sexual orientation or trans status. 

Our 2018 LGBT in Britain - Health Report, based on YouGov research with 5000 lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) people across England, Scotland and Wales about their life in Britain today showed that one in seven LGBT people (14 per cent) avoid seeking healthcare for fear of discrimination from staff. And the Government Equalities Office’s National LGBT Survey (2018) of over 108,000 people found that forty per cent of trans respondents reported having faced at least one negative experience in healthcare in the previous year.  

So what are we going to do? 

  • Together we’ll be evolving the highly successful NHS Rainbow Badge awards scheme with a Bronze/ Silver/ Gold tiered awards model. Awards will be linked to objectives around LGBT+ inclusion within NHS organisations, ensuring that Trusts are implementing the relevant staff training, monitoring, inclusive policies and support for LGBT staff and patients to drive a supportive work and clinical environment. 

  • The project will combine LGBT Foundation’s Pride in Practice experience in primary care and patient-focused support, Stonewall’s Diversity Champion experience supporting employers and internal staff, and Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard’s expertise in engaging with secondary care services.  

And so LGBT Foundation will each be recruiting a new member of staff to support this important work. You can currently apply to be the Project Manager here – deadline for applications is 18 February.  

Welcoming the development, Dr Michael Brady, National Advisor for LGBT Health, NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: 

‘The NHS Rainbow Badge has been one of the most successful and widespread initiatives in raising LGBT awareness across the NHS.  The badges have received an enormous amount of interest, including participation from over 90% of NHS trusts within just 18 months of the project launching.  This is largely thanks to the visionary work of Dr Mike Farquhar and colleagues at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. I am delighted that we’re able to build on this success by investing in Phase 2 of the project, to support delivery of wider objectives to improve the care and reduce inequalities for LGBT patients, as well as improving experience for LGBT staff. I am really pleased that this new partnership between the LGBT Foundation, Stonewall, LGBT Consortium, Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard and GLADD, all of whom have many years’ experience in this field, are taking this work forward.’