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With Pride, July 2019


Drew Payne

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Something New Every Year

(July 2019)

 

The other Saturday, I did something I’d never done before. At my age, it isn’t often I get to do something as new as this, but the other Saturday I marched in the London Pride March openly as a nurse.

I’ve marched in the Pride March many times before, with friends, with LGBT organisations, but never before openly as a nurse. This year, a group of staff in my Trust’s LGBT Network organised to take part in the London Pride March and we had the blessing of our Trust.

On Pride Saturday, all of us in bright yellow tee-shirts (with our Trust’s name and logo emblazoned across them) and all wearing our security bracelets, we took our place in the march. We were LGBT staff and our straight allies gathered around our placard that announced who we were, Whittington Health Staff Inclusion Network.

Marching in Pride openly as NHS staff was one thing, but the reaction we received from the crowds along the route was amazing. People smiled and waved at us, they clapped and cheered us, people were so happy to see us. All we were doing was marching.

The NHS is still not an inclusion or safe place for many LGBT patients. A recent Stonewall report found one in four LGBT people have witnessed homophobia from NHS staff and one in seven of them have avoided treatment because of fear of discrimination from NHS staff (1). Yet how much has the NHS done to reverse this situation? Very little. This isn’t the first report by Stonewall, there have been many over the years, all reading the same, and yet the NHS does so little to change this.

In the four years between 2014 and 2018, LGBT hate crime rose by 144% (2) and yet the NHS is still not a safe place for LGBT patients.

What my colleagues and I did at Pride was not a great step forward and for most of us did not require a large amount of effort, yet the reaction of the crowd was almost breath-taking. Those people cheered us on because they were happy and grateful for us being there, and our presence told them that our Trust was working towards providing care in a safe place.

Taking part in London Pride fired all of us up, our WhatsApp group has gone crazy, and we are already making plans for next year’s Pride and getting off the ground an LGBT Staff Network. We need to work hard at making our Trust an inclusive organisation, a safe place for all, but we are starting.

We talk a lot about person-centred care but are we just paying lip service to it when so many LGBT people do not feel able to be open with us about themselves for fear of discrimination?

Every long journey starts with a single step, but who would have thought that step would be marching at Pride? So why aren’t more NHS Trusts taking part in the different Pride celebrations around the country? Our presence would say so much to the LGBT people there.

(This was originally published as a comment piece in Nursing Standard magazine)

Drew Payne

 

Find out more about this short blog series here

 

 

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It is good to know and see that some Hospitals and Trusts are striving to bring about equality and inclusion, but even now there are still some that leave a lot to be desired. I live in Manchester where, for the most part, equality and inclusion is well promoted and supported appearing to be something that is second nature and treated as a 'normal' aspect of life. I identify as a bisexual man leaning more toward men than women and have medical issues that require regular medical check-ups and dialysis treatment, my appointments usually go ahead with no issues or concerns but occasionally I still come across that 'one' member of staff who has 'reservations'. I doubt that we as a society will ever get to 100% equality and acceptance, it is getting better but there is still, and probably always will be, a long way to go. It has been acknowledged in earlier blog entries that that hospitals in the big cities are those that have made the best progress, hospitals in the smaller towns and cities are where this is a bigger issue.

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6 hours ago, Mancunian said:

It is good to know and see that some Hospitals and Trusts are striving to bring about equality and inclusion, but even now there are still some that leave a lot to be desired. I live in Manchester where, for the most part, equality and inclusion is well promoted and supported appearing to be something that is second nature and treated as a 'normal' aspect of life. I identify as a bisexual man leaning more toward men than women and have medical issues that require regular medical check-ups and dialysis treatment, my appointments usually go ahead with no issues or concerns but occasionally I still come across that 'one' member of staff who has 'reservations'. I doubt that we as a society will ever get to 100% equality and acceptance, it is getting better but there is still, and probably always will be, a long way to go. It has been acknowledged in earlier blog entries that that hospitals in the big cities are those that have made the best progress, hospitals in the smaller towns and cities are where this is a bigger issue.

This is the last blog in this series because this was the last comment piece I had published in Nursing Standard magazine. Early in 2020 they changed their format, going from a weekly publication to a monthly one, and where less in need of content. After then I started to return to blogging.

Life is changing. Britain is far more welcoming than it was twenty years ago, and certainly more than it was thirty years ago, and I am sure that has a lot to do with more visibility over the years. The more people who are out than the more people know someone who is LGBT, and the more they realise the reality of our lives.

There has always been a move to the city for anyone "different", our cities are more liberal and open places, certainly more multicultural places (I've been doing some reach on this for something else I am writing). Which has left life outside of them still very conservative. Things are changing but there are still a lot of push-backs against. Our right-wing media is certainly pushing back, with their "war on wokeness" (which equals a war on diversity) and their anti-trans views make me sick (especially as they are the arguments they used against gays thirty years ago).

I have a hope for the future, based on my own experience. I started to come out in 1984 and the world today is totally different from then, the changes are breath-taking. Yes, there is a lot more that needs to be done and that's why we should never stop pushing for equality.

I'm going to write a postscript to this blog series. Something happened at this year's London Pride that showed me how far we have come. But I haven't written it yet and I've got other blogs to post first.

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