Staff from Airedale NHS Foundation Trust (AFT), Bradford district and Craven CCGs, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust (BDCFT) and Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTHFT) launch the NHS Rainbow Badge scheme across Bradford district and CravenNHS organisations, across Bradford district and Craven, including Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, are uniting to promote inclusivity and reduce health inequalities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) people who access healthcare by launching the NHS Rainbow Badge initiative.

Six local NHS organisations are working together to launch the Rainbow Badge on Friday 4 October 2019.

The launch of the scheme will raise awareness amongst NHS staff of the health inequalities facing LGBT+ people and ensure people feel safe and included when accessing healthcare.

A recent Stonewall survey* estimates that one in five LGBT+ people are not ‘out’ to any healthcare professional about their sexual orientation when seeking general medical care. It also found that one in seven LGBT+ people have avoided treatment for fear of discrimination.

Despite the progress made towards LGBT+ equality in recent years, many LGBT+ people still face significant barriers to leading healthy, happy and fulfilling lives. With high rates of poor mental health and challenges when accessing healthcare a contributing factor.

The NHS Rainbow Badge was created by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, in partnership with Evelina London Children’s Hospital. The badge is a special rainbow edition of the NHS logo (known as the ‘lozenge’). Badges are handed to NHS staff who have pledged to reduce inequalities and provide support and signposting to LGBT+ people.

The local NHS organisations that are rolling out the scheme are NHS Bradford district and Craven CCGs, Airedale NHS Foundation Trust (AFT), Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust (BDCFT) and Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTHFT). Staff are already signing-up for training and awareness sessions on the health inequalities LGBT+ people face when accessing healthcare, on how to provide help and where to signpost to local support.

Darryll Monroe, advanced nurse practitioner prescriber and chair of the LGBT+ Network at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust has been involved in developing the initiative locally and said: “The rainbow badge initiative is a powerful way of demonstrating our commitment to being inclusive and celebrating diversity across our Trust and our wider healthcare system, both to our patients and our staff.

“Everyone is equal and deserves to be treated with compassion and respect. Wearing the badge is my commitment to making that happen – and promoting a diverse and inclusive workforce. Valuing and using the talents, expertise and knowledge of all our staff is a key driver for our Trust that will help us be the best place to work and to deliver services that meet the needs of our diverse population.”

Helen Hirst, chief officer at Bradford district and Craven CCGs said: “We are committed to promoting inclusion and celebrating diversity, as are all the partners involved in the launch of the NHS Rainbow Badge locally, and this is a great example of how we’re working together to positively improve patient experience across all our local services.

“Simple symbols like the rainbow are a great way of sending a signal to people that they are in a positive, inclusive and safe environment. The NHS Rainbow Badge represents us sending a public and visual message to LGBT+ people that we will support them to talk about things they might have otherwise felt unsure or uncomfortable disclosing. It is also a prompt to start conversations among staff about how we can work together to improve the experiences of LGBT+ people when they use the NHS.

“We’ve made an intentional decision to do this ‘as a system’, which means no matter which hospital you access or which health team you speak to, you are likely to see a rainbow badge and you can feel safe that the person wearing it is committed to understanding your needs and helping you get the right care.”

The scheme has been developed locally by staff across all six organisations, including members of the LGBT+ Networks at all three NHS trusts.

Karen Dawber, chief nurse at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and LGBT+ role model and Staff Network member said: “Increased awareness of the issues surrounding LGBT+ people when accessing healthcare on the part of NHS staff can make significant differences to LGBT+ people’s experiences and, in turn, their physical and mental health.

“Staff who wear a badge will have received training in the health inequalities facing LGBT+ people and although they won’t have all the answers to everyone’s questions, they’ll have a good understanding and local knowledge of where someone can get additional help and support.”

“We should also remember the LGBT+ staff who work within our organisations, the rainbow badge gives a clear message that we are inclusive for patients, carers, staff, service users and public.”

Brendan Brown, chief executive of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust and the system partnership in that area, added: “I am delighted to see that our healthcare providers across the whole Bradford district and Craven system have come together to make such a positive and public step forward to promote inclusion and celebrate diversity.

“This is about so much more than a new pin badge for staff to wear… It’s about supporting LGBT+ people to feel more confident and comfortable in approaching a member of staff wearing a NHS Rainbow Badge. It’s about celebrating the diversity in our own workforce and showing that we support and respect our staff who we want to empower to be themselves.

“We want to work together to make people feel safe and welcome, but also to understand where we can make services more inclusive and accessible to all as part of a wider conversation across our health system. We will work together to improve the experiences of LGBT+ people so that we continue to make sure that all members of our local communities are happy, health and at home in Bradford district and Craven.”