NHS rainbow badges promote inclusion

Posted on Friday 22nd February 2019
Three Evelina London staff pointing to NHS rainbow badges they are wearing

Evelina London staff proudly wearing their NHS Rainbow Badges

NHS Rainbow Badges are being worn by Evelina London staff to send a message of inclusion.

Rainbow badges show that Evelina London is an open, non-judgemental and inclusive place for people that identify as LGBT+.

LGBT+ stands for lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and the + means that we are inclusive of all identities, regardless of how people define themselves.

Almost a third of Evelina London staff have signed up to wear the badge exceeding the original target of a quarter wearing the badge to combat the Stonewall statistic that almost a quarter of NHS staff have heard their colleagues make a negative remark about LGBT+ people.

Wearing the badge is 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 badge is an NHS logo superimposed on the rainbow pride flag and can be worn on lanyards or uniforms. The NHS Rainbow Badges initiative was created by staff with the help of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity funding.

The initiative has been backed by the Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Strictly Come Dancing star, and former Evelina London paediatrician, Dr Ranj.

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!”

Although it originated at Evelina London, the initiative is now being rolled out across Guy’s and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust. A toolkit has also been created to support and encourage other NHS organisations to implement the initiative. More than 100 clinical commissioning groups, GP surgeries and hospitals from across the country have already expressed an interest in rolling it out.

Dr Michael Farquhar, NHS rainbow badge 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. 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.”

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.”

Implementation packs are available for other NHS organisations via the Rainbow Badge project team, who can be contacted at RainbowBadge@gstt.nhs.uk.

Did you know that we’re celebrating 150 years of Evelina London?

Since 1869, we've been saving lives, improving health and inspiring better futures. 150 years ago, Evelina London was born out of love, when Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild founded the hospital in memory of his wife, Evelina.