A healthcare survey undertaken by Stonewall (UKs largest LGBT Charity) in 2018 showed 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 avoid treatment for fear of discrimination. This was undertaken as a project from the ED & I network to raise awareness of LGBT+ Issues within the healthcare setting.
What we did
The Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Group have recently launched the Rainbow Badge Initiative which is a nationally recognised NHS Scheme, which gives NHS healthcare staff a way to show that they offer open, non-judgemental and inclusive care for patients and their families, who identify as LGBT+.
This has been promoted at an awareness event, Protected Learning Time sessions and Practice Manager meetings within Coventry, Rugby and Warwickshire North. As well as promoting the badges the group have compiled a directory of LGBT organisations that GPs can refer to for support on specific matters nationally and locally including Gender Identity/ Trans as well as faith based groups and specifically aimed at young people.
The scheme and directory have now been added to GP gateway website, which is an information and resource site for local GPs to support them.
By choosing to wear this badge, the healthcare professional is sending a message that 'you can talk to me'. NHS staff aren’t expected to have the answers to all issues and concerns but to be a friendly ear, and will know how to signpost patients to the best support available for their particular needs.
Who we worked with
We worked closely with our colleagues in primary care, both through the Primary Care Networks and through individual practices, to raise awareness of this scheme.
The response so far has been very positive with surgeries as well as PCNs committing to the scheme and supplying the badges to their staff.
Feedback received from GPs has been very useful as many have admitted that they do not know where to turn for specific advice of patients who are transitioning or who have specific issues relating to their sexual orientation.
We have already heard from several GPs who have a large number of University patients who receive many LGBT+ related queries and the signposting advice is very helpful.
The initiative supports the CCG in caring for its population by creating partnerships with specific LGBT+ support organisations, which promotes inclusivity within its demographic and reducing inequalities.
We are planning on receiving statistical impact 3 months following the launch to see impact that there has been on patients within the PCNs/ Surgeries that have engaged.
This initiative will show those from the LGBT+ community that there are NHS staff trained to support them and sensitive to their needs, as well as support available within their local community. This will hopefully lead to a reduction in mental health crisis referrals related to LGBT+ issues.