BSUH NHS Trust has new rainbow lanyards and pins for all staff to wear. This is part of our commitment to positive signifiers to promote inclusion and raise the standards of understanding about minority sexual orientations (e.g. lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual), gender identities (e.g. trans, gender non conforming, non-binary) and bodily variations (intersex). It has taken three years for us to get this in place.

While all staff can wear the rainbow signifiers to show support, we are also asking staff to step forward as active allies.

What does it mean at BSUH to be an active ally?

(a) You get support from Olivia King to develop your own understanding of gender and sexual diversities so you can help others.

(b) You meet other active allies from across the Trust to share learning – we meet quarterly – you can attend as many meetings as you are able to.

(c) You need to have the support of your manager to be an active ally as it is recognised in your appraisal as something extra that you do to promote positive and healthy values and behaviours at the Trust, and it demonstrates your desire to actively up-skill in a key knowledge area.

(d) You become part of the Gender and Sexual Diversity Staff Working Group which reports to the Diversity Matters Steering Group (headed by the Chief Executive, Dame Marianne Griffiths). You can attend as many meetings as you want to provide input on work that the Trust needs to focus on to make our services and organisation more LGBTQ+ inclusive.

(e) Being an active ally is a journey: no one knows everything there is to know; you will gradually learn about how best to use your skills and strengths to help others.

Contact (Equality Advisor) if you would like to know more or ask your manager to get in touch so we can set up a meeting to explore how you can be an active ally (which will take about 10 minutes).

History of rainbow signifiers at NHS Trusts

In 2015 Central and South West NHS Foundation Trust became the first NHS Trust to roll out rainbow lanyards and pin badges. Based on a study and report initiated and conducted by Alison Devlin, the Equality Lead at the Trust, which showed that patients were worried about how they would be treated because of their minority gender and sexual identity, she moved to introduce voluntary NHS rainbow lanyards and pins. At the time, Alison Devlin said “This report really highlighted the importance of creating a more open environment and a better experience for LGBT patients. As a result of the findings we rolled out LGBT awareness training sessions for inpatient staff which, together with the lanyard scheme, has helped to encourage openness on the wards and transform the patient experience. They give a powerful message to people at a time when they might be feeling at their most vulnerable.”

Since then  numerous other Trusts have introduced rainbow lanyards and pins, the most high profile being the Rainbow NHS Badge Project run by Dr Mike Farquar at Evelina London. Dr Farquar is developing information packs and resources that can be used by other Trusts to roll out their own NHS rainbow pin badges.

What is happening at BSUH?

This is a proactive measure which encourages staff to think about what they need to promote a culture of inclusion in their individual teams/ward areas/departments. Each person, ward area and department will have a different level of understanding about these issues and that is why it is important to have active allies and signifiers across the Trust so we can raise the standards of understanding and inclusion for people.

It has taken us three years of research, talking to staff, communicating with other NHS Trusts and getting feedback from patients to design our initiative. It is based on looking at different spaces that our staff and patients use and the different ways that we need to support people of multiple identities. We encourage teams and individual staff to step forward to improve their understanding about gender and sexual diversities to limit the discomfort, shame and discrimination that some patients face when access our services due to misinformation and lack of staff knowledge.

It will help improve patient care and staff wellbeing:

(a)    Takes the responsibility away from the person having to determine if it is safe to disclose their gender identity and/or sexual orientation

(b)   Will encourage people to fill in sexual orientation monitoring information if they can see that BSUH is trying to be a safe space for them. This information is critical to ensuring we can fund initiatives where they are needed and assess whether staff are being negatively affected in workplace progression by their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

(c)    It will help with cancer services and end of life care where patients are less likely to speak up about their needs.

(d)   It will help younger people accessing services to feel less anxious about talking about their gender identity and/or sexual orientation, especially if they are unable to talk to their carers about it.

(e)   It will start to normalise thinking around gender identity and/or sexual orientation and encourage clinical staff to be less worried about how it may impact progression.

(f)     It will be a clear sign from the Trust that it will not tolerate homophobia, biphobia or transphobia.

Contact us for information.