Ahead of the Pride celebrations, the NHS confirmed that more than 200 hospitals are launching dedicated schemes that support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) communities.

As many as 150,000 doctors, nurses, cleaners, surgeons, midwives and other health service staff are taking up a new Rainbow Badge initiative which gives staff the opportunity to show their support for LGBT+ patients and staff. The badge, being adopted in around one in three of England’s acute trusts, is a simple image of an NHS logo superimposed on the rainbow pride flag, which can be worn on NHS staff lanyards or on uniforms.

As well as showing support for Pride, the programme will deliver practical toolkits to hospitals, developed by Evelina London, which will help staff to support LGBT+ people to access the right services, following news last week that around 50,000 LGB women had never been for cervical screening due to misleading information, often found online.

Ahead of Pride, Simon Stevens, Chief Executive for NHS England, met with the NHS’s LGBT+ Staff Network to discuss what more the NHS can do to improve care and support for patients and staff.

“The NHS at its best is the real world expression of equality and inclusion,” said Stevens. “Whoever you are and whoever you love: a health service there when you need it. And as probably the biggest employer of LGBT+ people in Europe: an NHS that welcomes to our team all who bring dedication and skill and compassion.”

Dr Michael Brady, the new NHS National LGBT Health Advisor, added: “The Rainbow Badge scheme is a brilliant push by hard-working NHS staff, as part of our Long Term Plan for the health service, to show how much the LGBT+ community – patients and staff – is valued.”

The NHS hopes the Rainbow Badge will:

  • Help patients identify staff they can talk to about health and wellbeing issues relating to gender and sexuality
  • Tell patients and colleagues that the member of staff will signpost them to resources to explain LGBT+ health issues
  • Will help to break down barriers LGBT+ people face when accessing healthcare, for example, getting regular cancer screening

Dr Michael Farquhar, a consultant in sleep medicine at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, pioneered the rainbow badge, saying: “We developed the Rainbow NHS badge model at Evelina London Children’s Hospital to signal to LGBT+ people using our services that those wearing the badge are good people to talk to about these issues, but also to help challenge some of the negative attitudes towards LGBT+ people.”