Empowering inclusivity: Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust’s commitment to diversity and supportive healthcare

Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) apply to every single person, regardless of their differences. But why is this important, and how does Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust continue to work towards this initiative?

By embracing diversity, it allows for a more representative and equitable society; we acknowledge and celebrate individual differences, including their unique perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences. This creates a more inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and supported, regardless of their differences. At Gateshead Health we welcome and encourage diversity, but there are some cases where we need to demonstrate this in a more obvious way. Enter the rainbow badges, you might have noticed them worn by staff who work for us.

Pride 2023 Gateshead Health
Pride 2023 Gateshead Health

The NHS rainbow badges symbolise support for the LGBTQ+ community, and NHS staff members wear them in healthcare settings to show their understanding and commitment to providing inclusive care and employment. The badges indicate that the wearer is a safe and trustworthy point of contact for LGBTQ+ patients. It creates a sense of confidence and safety, encouraging patients to approach the staff member with any worries or conversations they might otherwise find difficult to initiate. The badge acts as a beacon saying, I understand, I am with you, and you can approach me about any concerns or questions.

The badges are not unique to Gateshead but are worn by thousands of NHS staff members who have committed to creating a more supportive and inclusive environment for all patients and colleagues. The badge has become a beacon of positive change, representing a shift towards a more compassionate and empathetic healthcare system that values diversity and recognises the unique challenges faced by minority groups.

Ellen Mellor, Co-chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network at Gateshead Health had this to say:

The Rainbow Badge initiative is absolutely vital. Although one person wearing a badge appears to be a tiny little action, it is part of a much larger community of acceptance, welcome and love. As a queer woman, seeing someone wearing a rainbow badge sets my mind at rest and lets me know I can be myself around them.

Ellen Mellor, Co-chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network at Gateshead Health

While the NHS rainbow badge is an excellent symbol of inclusivity, it is essential to recognise that the work towards creating a more supportive and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community is much larger than just a pin badge. The rainbow badge is just one of the many steps that Gateshead Health have embraced to create a more welcoming workplace for all, but the work will continue regardless of badges.

The LGBTQ+ community has faced numerous challenges and discrimination throughout history, and while progress has been made, there is still much work to be done. The NHS has a vital role in this ongoing effort, and it is heartening to see so many healthcare professionals committed to creating a more supportive and inclusive environment for all patients and colleagues.

It is important to acknowledge that although the NHS rainbow badge has been a positive symbol of progress towards inclusivity, there is still work to be done in creating a more welcoming and supportive healthcare system and workplace environment. This requires a collective effort and commitment from all, including staff, patients, and visitors to the hospital. Gateshead Health Foundation Trust understands this and strives to create a safe and welcoming place for everyone, regardless of their differences.