Rainbow Badges

NHS Rainbow Badge Rainbow Badges is an initiative that gives colleagues a way to show that University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHP) offers open, non-judgemental and inclusive care for patients and their families, who identify as LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, the + simply means that we are inclusive of all identities, regardless of how people define themselves). 

The Rainbow Badge initiative originated at Evelina London Children's Hospital to make a positive difference by promoting a message of inclusion. 

Sounds good! What do I need to do? 

Have a read through the information on this page which gives an overview of the issues and why it's important for all healthcare staff to be aware of them. If you want to take part, sign up to receive an NHS rainbow badge to wear at work via the pledge form.

Why wear a badge? 

By choosing to wear this badge, you are sending a message that “you can talk to me”. You aren’t expected to have the answers to all issues and concerns but you are a friendly ear, and will know how to signpost to the support available. 

Lesbian, gay and transgender (LGBT+) patients face inequalities in their experience of NHS healthcare. A recent Stonewall survey (published November 2018) estimates that one in five LGBT+ people are not out to any healthcare professional about their sexual orientation when seeking general medical care, and 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 services a contributing factor. 

We want to change attitudes and misconceptions like these...

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UHP places a huge value on equality for both staff and patients. We recognise the experience of patients and colleagues may differ because of what they are, rather than who they are.  Our aim is to recognise and appreciate difference in all its forms, whether visual or hidden, and to work in a way that is inclusive. Here are examples of actions we have taken:

  • The Trust Board has undertaken board refresher development in Equality and Diversity.
  • The creation of a working group the Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity Working Group (EDIWG) which is representative of our patient and staff groups.
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion forms part of our induction and mandatory training programmes.
  • Improved staff and patient data and a better understanding of areas of focus.
  • Working in partnership with Trade Unions, Freedom to Speak Up Guardians to promote raising concerns in the workplace.
  • Annually support Disability Awareness Week which provides an opportunity for colleagues and visitors to share their views, comment on the difficulties faced by people with various disabilities and enable us to better understand their needs.
  • Annually support Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Week.
  • To ensure our services are accessible to all deaf and hard of hearing patients, we have introduced SignLive which allows our clinicians and staff to communicate with deaf patients in real-time without the need to organise a face-to-face interpreter through an app on Trust iPads as well as improved patient engagement links with the local Deaf Club and members of the Patient Services Team.
  • Held ‘Big Conversations’ in relation to equality and fairness with a focus on what good looks like with a commitment to making improvements for everyone.

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 experience, and, in turn on their physical and mental health.

Simple visible symbols, such as the Rainbow Badge, can make a big difference for those unsure of both themselves, and of the reception they will receive if they disclose their sexuality and/or gender identity.

For an overview of the challenges people can face in relation to sexuality and gender read Stonewall’s LGBT in Britain Health Report which includes a review of key research.

It’s not just about wearing a badge, there are simple things we can all do to promote inclusion: -

  • Use inclusive language in all discussions
  • Affirm the identity that a person chooses to use
  • Assure confidentiality.

You may be the first person someone has ever felt confident enough to open up to about how they feel. For them, it may be one of the most important moments of their life, and how you respond to it is something they will remember.

What to do if a person discloses to you

The badges are not designed as a symbol intended to prompt disclosures, but they may prompt a person to disclose information about their own sexuality or gender identity, perhaps for the first time. Wearing a badge doesn’t mean you’ll have all the answers but most importantly you should be prepared to listen and signpost to relevant information.

What to do if you feel you need to escalate a conversation?

Occasionally you may feel that a person’s disclosure means that they need more immediate support, or that they are at risk.

There is always someone to ask for advice and we recommend contacting the:-

  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusions Leads – Jayne Glynn (for Patients) on 33289 or Jenny Birchall (for Colleagues) on 37254.

  • Safeguarding Team on 39053

  • Emma Collins - SHiP – on 39761 or emma.collins73@nhs.net

  • Martin Jared-Davis – Unite the Union Equality Representative – m.jared-davis@nhs.net or 30836

  • Alison Griffiths – Senior Sister/Ward Manager on 31971

Where to signpost people for support:

  • Not Alone (Trans)
  • OutYouth (Youth 11-19 (up to 25 for those with additional needs)
  • Terrence Higgins (HIV and sexual health)
  • Intercom trust (LGBT+ general including sessions for families and provides training)
  • Pride In Plymouth
  • The charity Stonewall have excellent resources to support LGBT+ people
  • The Albert Kennedy Trust provides support for LGBT+ people who are homeless or living in a hostile home environment.
  • Got a question about the project? Contact Jenny Birchall on 37254

So..where do I pledge?

Pledges are uniquely personal, so we encourage that you only pledge for yourself and not on behalf of others.

Click here for the pledge form.

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