MORE than 500 members of staff at Dorset County Hospital have started to wear rainbow badges to show they are happy to offer their support for people from the LGBT+ community.

The rainbow badge initiative originated at Evelina London Children's Hospital. Since Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (DCHFT) launched the initiative to staff during July 2019 there have been more than 530 applications for a badge.

A spokesperson for the hospital Trust said: "By choosing to wear this badge, DCHFT staff are sending a message that ‘you can talk to me’. They aren’t expected to have the answers to all issues and concerns but are a friendly ear, and will signpost to the support available.

"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."

Julia Yeates, Patient Experience Co-ordinator at Dorset HealthCare, recently attended a Weymouth Gay Group meeting to listen to members talk about their experiences and views about NHS services for LGBT people in Dorset.

She said: “As a Trust we offer open, non-judgemental and inclusive care for children, young people, adults and their families who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

"Our Patient Experience team are taking a proactive approach to engage with seldom heard voices and were pleased to be asked to attend the recent meeting of the Weymouth Gay Group.

"A wide range of issues were raised at the meeting and one item we suggested was offering an online survey to gain anonymous feedback on the experiences of using our services. We have agreed to attend the meetings a number of times a year to ensure that any changes or improvements are fed back.

"Our Patient Experience Team are also keen to work with other seldom heard groups of patients/service users from existing networks around sexuality, gender, ethnicity and faith groups."

If you or your group wish to be involved with this, please email or call 01202 277027.