NHS Rainbow Badge

Published: 04 August 2023
Last updated: 20 December 2023

Improving access and experiences of healthcare for LGBTQ+ patients and staff

Learn more about our Rainbow Badges Programme today.

The NHS Rainbow Badge was created to be a way for NHS staff to demonstrate that they are aware of the issues that LGBTQ+ people can face when accessing healthcare.

There are two phases to the programme:

Phase 1: Choosing to wear the badge and committing to being someone who an LGBTQ+ person can feel comfortable talking to about issues relating to sexuality or gender identity.

Phase 2: An assessment and accreditation model allowing NHS Trusts to demonstrate their commitment to reducing barriers to healthcare for LGBTQ+ people, whilst evidencing the good work they have already undertaken.

Phase 1: Wearing the NHS Rainbow Badge 

The NHS Rainbow Badge was developed and led from Evelina London Children’s Hospital by Dr. Michael Farquhar as a way for NHS staff to demonstrate they are aware of issues that LGBTQ+ people can face when accessing healthcare. 

When wearing the badge you: 

  • Accept that it is a responsibility. 
  • Acknowledge the barriers which LGBTQ+ people may face. 
  • Commit to promoting an environment that is open, tolerant, and inclusive. 
  •  Are there to listen without judgement. 

When signing up to Phase 1, your organisation is provided with an Implementation Toolkit which has all the information needed to put the project into practice. 

Phase 2: Creating LGBTQ+ inclusive healthcare environments 

Phase 2 is funded by NHS England and delivered by a collaborative partnership consisting of LGBT Foundation, Stonewall, LGBT Consortium, Switchboard, and GLADD.  

It is an assessment and accreditation model aimed at supporting your NHS Trust to create an inclusive healthcare environment. 

You will be assessed on: 

  • Clinical service provision 
  • Workforce inclusion 
  • Leadership 
  • Sexual Orientation, Gender, and Trans Status monitoring 
  • Facilities 
  • Engagement 

You will receive a graded award reflecting your current LGBTQ+ inclusion work, either Bronze, Silver, or Gold, and a comprehensive feedback report and action plan, designed to help your Trust facilitate meaningful change and achieve the next grade. 

Taking part in Phase 2 is all about celebrating the work your Trust has already undertaken and identifying opportunities to create tangible, meaningful change.

Taking part offers your Trust: 

  • Recognition of inclusion work already in practice. 
  • A detailed individual action plan and resources. 
  • Evidence of meeting legal requirements to reduce health inequalities. 
  • Access to expert support, best practice guidance, and case studies. 
  • Improvements to patient experience 
  • Support facilitating community engagement. 
  • Increases in staff retention and satisfaction 

If you want to roll out Phase 1 in your organisation or find out more about taking part in Phase 2, you can email us at rainbow.badge@lgbt.foundation.

Keep up to date with the work the NHS Rainbow Badge is doing by following the official Twitter page. 

Improving the experiences of LGBTQ+ patients and professionals

Two queer people, one is femme-presenting woman the other non-binary, in rainbow shirts standing by a river, enjoying the scenic view.

Since 2018 over 150 NHS Trusts across England have launched Phase 1, and 50 NHS Trusts have completed Phase 2 of the programme. We are delighted to be supporting more Trusts through Phase 2 in 2023 and are pleased to see Trusts returning for reassessment.  

During the pilot of Phase 2, consultation took place with patients and professionals over the course of 5 focus groups.  

The Rainbow Badge partnership also facilitates the NHS LGBTI+ Sounding Board, a group of LGBTI+ volunteers who have lived experience of being LGBTI+ and knowledge of the health inequalities that can occur for LGBTI+ people. 


  • 23% of LGBTQ+ people have at one time witnessed anti-LGBTQ+ remarks by healthcare staff. 
  • 19% of trans people noted that when accessing healthcare their specific needs were ignored or not taken into account and 16% experienced inappropriate curiosity from healthcare professionals. 
  • 37% of LGB women have incorrectly been told by a health professional they did not require a cervical screening test because of their sexual orientation. 
  • 93% of LGBTQ+ specialists and service users consider that more work needs to be done to improve end-of-life services for LGBTQ+ people. 

Trust Indicators

Announcing the Phase 2 launch of The NHS Rainbow Badge, Dr. Michael Brady, National Advisor for LGBT Health, NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: 

“The NHS Rainbow Badge has been one of the most successful and widespread initiatives in raising LGBTQ+ awareness across the NHS. The badges have received an enormous amount of interest, including participation from over 90% of NHS trusts within just 18 months of the project launching. This is largely thanks to the visionary work of Dr. Mike Farquhar and colleagues at Guy’s and St.Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

I am delighted that we’re able to build on this success by investing in Phase 2 of the project, to support the delivery of wider objectives to improve the care and reduce inequalities for LGBTQ+ patients, as well as improve the experience for LGBTQ+ staff. I am really pleased that this new partnership between LGBT Foundation, Stonewall, LGBT Consortium, Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard, and GLADD, all of whom have many years of experience in this field, are taking this work forward.”

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