Wigan hospitals’ rainbow pride

Left to right: Debbie Jones, Andrew Foster and Joanne OBrien, assistant HR Business Partner
Left to right: Debbie Jones, Andrew Foster and Joanne OBrien, assistant HR Business Partner

Wigan’s hospital trust has become one of the first in the North West to sign up to the NHS Rainbow Badge initiative.

WWL hopes that by wearing the badges, staff and its partners will send out a powerful message of support and inclusion to the LGBT+ community.

Since thee initiative launched at the trust’s latest board meeting, almost 200 colleagues have signed up to receive one, which will be a visual symbol to identify them as someone an LGBT+ person can feel comfortable talking to about issues relating to sexual orientation or gender identity.

Many staff also joined in with the festivities of the recent Wigan Pride festival which the trust proudly sponsored.

It is also flying rainbow flags with pride at Wrightington Hospital and Wigan Infirmaryn – as well as a Pride Tree, taking pride of place outside Wigan Infirmary’s main entrance.

WWL chief executive Andrew Foster said: “We are committed to ensuring our services are fully inclusive for the LGBT+ community through the engagement of service users and the many communities we serve.

“We know, despite improving social attitudes in the UK, LGBT+ people can still face significant barriers to accessing healthcare. However, here at WWL, equality and inclusivity is extremely important for us and it’s essential that we celebrate the diversity of our workforce and be an employer of choice.”

Inclusion and diversity service lead Debbie Jones added: “The NHS Rainbow Badge isn’t just worn by those who identify themselves as LGBT+, but can also be worn by those who role model the inclusive and supportive behaviours that exemplify our diversity at WWL.

“The initiative has already led to positive feedback and we really hope that we can play a valuable part in reducing stigma and inequality.”

It comes in response to a study by the charity Stonewall in 2018 that found one in seven LGBT+ people avoided seeking healthcare for fear of discrimination from staff, while almost one in four witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBT+ people by healthcare staff.

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