The colourful additions have been added with funding from the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Charity to crossings near the main entrances at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, Lincoln County Hospital and Grantham and District Hospital as a permanent reminder that support for LGBTQ+ staff, patients and visitors to hospitals extends further than Pride month.

The progress flag incorporates the rainbow flag, with the inclusion of the transgender flag and additional stripes to represent marginalised people of colour, and those living with, affected by or lost to AIDS within the LGBTQ+ community. All these additions to the original rainbow flag improve visible representation within the LGBTQ+ community and aim to challenge the stigma these groups have and continue to face.

A recent Stonewall survey found that one in seven LGBT people (14%) have avoided treatment for fear of discrimination, and one in five LGBT (18%) have been target of negative comments or conduct from colleagues within the last year of the report.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has a number of initiatives coordinated by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team and through staff networks to ensure  hospitals provide an inclusive and supportive environment for staff and patients to work and receive care.

The new crossings follow on from the successful rainbow badge scheme that was launched in 2019, where staff could pledge to be an LGBTQ+ ally and wear the rainbow NHS badge to signal that they are an ally, as well as rainbow flags raised outside each hospital.

Each crossing was repainted as part of the existing maintenance programme, with the rainbow border added as a lasting reminder that discrimination is not welcome or tolerated in ULHT hospitals. The design is in line with Department for Transport guidance and keeps the traditional black and white zebra crossing element in the centre, to ensure it remains accessible for all regardless of visual or sensory processing differences.

Barry Jenkins, Director of Finance and Digital at ULHT and the executive sponsor of the PRIDE+ Staff Network, said: “Our new rainbow crossings help to represent the Trust’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and highlight our values that our patients and staff will be treated with respect and compassion regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“We know that the LGBTQ+ community have been more likely to face barriers in accessing services or sometimes mask their identity for fear of discrimination, and proudly displaying a visible reminder of our ally-ship is an important way to encourage our staff and patients to bring their whole identity to our hospitals if they choose to.”

Alison Marriott, who leads on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at ULHT, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the work we have been doing in our hospitals to support inclusion and ensure health care and career opportunities within ULHT are accessible to all. But it’s still important to break down the barriers which prevent people walking through the door, not just in Pride month, but all year round.

“For many, the rainbow is a symbol of hope, compassion and joy. The incorporation of the progress flag will make a huge positive impact to the wellbeing of our patients and colleagues, especially if they have previously had bad experiences when accessing services or at work.”

In a joint statement, the five members of leadership circle for the ULHT PRIDE+ Staff Network, said: “Seeing the new crossings shows us that the hospital is proud to recognise that I work here alongside other colleagues in the LGBTQ+ community,  and sets the tone for the type of environment you can expect when you walk through the doors: that you will be treated without judgment or prejudice, that you do not need to hide if you do not wish to, and most importantly that hate is not welcome.

“The PRIDE+ Staff Network was created by the trust to provide a safe space for all members of the community; whether out, questioning, or those who do not feel safe to be open yet, but it’s reassuring that the support extends beyond our network and that our voices are both listened to and celebrated.”

Ben Petts, Charity Manager for the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Charity, said: “As a charity we exist to provide enhancements to the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, this small but hugely significant addition provides a strong message to all LGBTQ+ patients, visitors, staff, friends and families that our Trust is an environment for all to feel safe and be their authentic selves. We couldn’t be prouder of these new additions to our hospital sites.”