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Over the past few weeks, NHS Western Isles has been emphasising its inclusive approach to all members of the community.

Pictured above is Dr. Kate Dawson, Clinical Lead, Uist and Barra Hospital, and GP partner, Benbecula Medical Practice, wearing the NHS Scotland Pride Badge, which promotes inclusion for LGBTQ+ people and makes a statement that there’s no place for discrimination in NHS Scotland.

NHS staff members who wear the badge, are pledging to:

  • be aware of and responsive to issues faced by LGBTQ+ people accessing care
  • be a friendly, listening ally who both staff and service users can safely approach
  • use inclusive language and respect identity.

Pictured are Angela Binnie and Annie MacDonald, Practice Nurses at Benbecula Medical Practice

Writing on the NHS Western Isles Facebook Page, Dr Dawson said: “I believe it is important to demonstrate commitment to social equality irrespective gender, sexuality, ethnicity or any other issue that could act as a barrier to full participation in our community. 

“By wearing this badge, I hope that this gives people the confidence to speak to me about any issues and barriers that are affecting them. 

“A few years ago, we ran a campaign in the surgery. We put up a poster stating our commitment to inclusivity in our waiting room. Within weeks, I had a patient who came to me and said that the poster had given them the courage to speak to me about their sexuality. It was a huge relief to them to talk to me about their related health problems, and it was a turning point in their life. Other colleagues had similar consultations, and it felt like an awakening within our community. 

“That one small step allowed us to start building a more inclusive society. One small step is all it takes.”

Shirley Criado, CAMHS Nurse for Uist and Barra

Yesterday (Saturday July 10) the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) Free Presbytery of the Outer Hebrides said they “were concerned to learn that NHS Western Isles have circulated a bulletin to all staff encouraging them to sign a new ‘Pride Pledge’ and wear a ‘Pride Badge’ created by NHS Scotland.

“All who access the health service, or work in it, deserve respect, and it is disappointing if managers think that their staff are somehow unaware of this or do not practise such respect.

“The introduction to the workplace of pledges and badges in favour of certain groups in society – and especially groups advocating lifestyles which people may conscientiously disapprove of for reasons of biblical belief – is divisive and wrong.

“Although such schemes may be voluntary, there is every danger that staff who cannot sign up to them will be penalised in some way, at some point. The Presbytery intend to follow up this issue,” their media statement said.