Today (Tuesday 1 June) marks the start of Pride month – the international celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.
Sadly, members of the community still face daily discrimination in their personal life, at work and while accessing public services.
We are showing our support for Pride month by flying the Pride flag from outside the University Hospital of North Tees and University Hospital of Hartlepool throughout June.
Present at the flag raising were chief executive Julie Gillon, the chair of the Trust’s LGBTQ+ staff network, nurse Stuart Harper-Reynolds, and Levi Buckley, chief operating officer.
Julie Gillon thanked colleagues for attending the flag raising, adding: ”The Pride flag tells everyone that we are open, transparent and inclusive to all. We support our LGBTQ+ colleagues and are welcoming to our LGBTQ+ patients.”
Levi said: “The flag’s a symbol but what it represents is really important.
“Negative attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people are changing, but it’s slow progress. Some members of the community are still fearful they will face discrimination, even in their local hospital.
“Flying the flag for Pride month shows our inclusivity, as does so many staff proudly wearing the NHS ‘rainbow’ badge. It tells our patients that we are here for them, no matter what their sexuality or gender identity.”
Our LGBTQ+ staff network
Stuart Harper-Reynolds chairs the Trust’s staff network – a working group which meets to discuss LGBTQ+ related issues in the workplace and seeks to make positive changes within the Trust.
Stuart commented: “The network is one of several new networking groups in the Trust to ensure all staff can have their voice heard. It’s early days but we’ll be feeding back the views and experiences of LGBTQ+ staff to senior management.
“As an inclusive, welcoming employer we value the input and point of views that having a diverse workforce creates.”
Throughout Pride month, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust will be issuing social media messages in support of the local community and highlighting the role LGBTQ+ staff play in delivering health care to the region.