The NHS Rainbow Badge - What does it mean?

You may notice more and more staff at University Hospital Plymouth NHS Trust wearing an NHS Rainbow badge. Here is the very important reason why (and it might not be the one you think):

It is correct that the NHS Rainbow has been prominent in the covid response, but the true roots of the NHS Rainbow lie symbolically as a sign of safety for staff and patients who identify as LGBT+.

The popular badge concept was originally created by Evelina London Children’s Hospitals who recognised there were health inequalities for their LBGT+ patients, who felt unable to be open with their health providers.

By pledging to wear the badge and committing to uphold its meaning, staff are sending a message to patients and their families that ‘you can talk to me’ about issues of gender and sexuality. So far more than 1,300 healthcare professionals have made their pledge.

Lenny Byrne, Chief Nurse and Director of Integrated Clinical Professions, helped to implement the scheme when he arrived in 2019.

When asked about the significance of the NHS Rainbow Badge, Lenny said: “As healthcare professionals, we might be the first person someone has ever felt confident enough to open up to about how they feel. For them, it’ll be one of the most important moments of their life, and how we respond to that moment is something they will remember forever.

“As we’ve seen historically these negative experiences have a lasting impact and lead to health inequalities, with as many as 1 in 7 people from the LGBT+ community having avoided healthcare for fear of discrimination[i]. This is really alarming at a time when the rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions amongst the LGBT+ community are rising.

“The NHS Rainbow Badge is a simple visible symbol to let people know that you can talk to us about who you are, your identity and how you are feeling - without being judged.”

Trust staff can make their pledge at

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