August 30, 2023 - 7:00am

If you have to visit a hospital, you will probably have lots of questions. Are the results of those tests as scary as you fear? Who will look after the kids if you’re admitted to a ward? What you won’t be asking, I can pretty much guarantee, is “are the staff LGBT+ allies?”

If you’re visiting the Royal Free, a teaching hospital in north London, however, it seems to be assumed that this is your biggest worry. According to research carried out by the Policy Exchange think tank, a banner in the entrance suggests that members of staff wearing an “LGBTQ+ ally” badge are “safe” for LGBTQ+ patients to speak to.

It’s part of the NHS Rainbow Badge scheme, similar to Stonewall’s discredited Diversity Champions programme, and it now has an astonishing 77 NHS trusts signed up. The scheme is run by the LGBT Foundation and promotes extreme gender ideology in hospitals. Staff are advised to avoid words like “mother” and encouraged to introduce “gender neutral” toilets — all without consulting patients, of course. 

It’s yet another example of institutional capture, a fact confirmed by questions for staff in hospitals signed up to the scheme. “Does the service have sensitive guidance in place to support a noncarrying parent to breast/chest feed?” is classic trans activist framing.

The Royal Free seems to have gone further down this route than most. According to guidance posted on a staff noticeboard, staff are apparently being advised not to ask “inappropriate questions” such as “what is your name?” because trans patients might not want to disclose their birth name. A hospital spokesman denied that this was official policy, but could not say who created the guidance.

At one level, it’s laughable to see responsible adults behaving like this. Doctors and nurses have many more pressing things to worry about than offending the tiny proportion of the population who identify as trans or non-binary. It’s not even the case that many gay and lesbian patients want to be treated by staff wearing rainbow badges, given the hostility they have endured from trans activists. 

There are lots of anxious people in a hospital on any given day, and compelling them to use the weird euphemisms promoted by activists won’t alleviate their distress. Women facing a diagnosis of cervical cancer know that their condition is sex-specific — and I very much doubt whether they want to share a “gender neutral” toilet with biological males while they absorb the bad news. 

“Inclusive” language has clinical implications. If a trans-identified male insists on being recorded as a woman in medical notes, he may miss out on screening for prostate cancer. And someone who doesn’t have English as a first language might not know she is a “cervix-haver” and needs to have a cervical smear. Schemes that erase everyday words in the name of inclusion are actually doing the opposite, and the Government needs to ban them from hospitals — and everywhere else.

We are living through a period of crisis in our institutions. Trust in the NHS and the police has collapsed, to give just two examples, and one of the reasons for this is a failure to consult the public. Women want rapists to be arrested and charged, not cops wearing rainbow badges and dancing at Pride. And hospitals should be places where worried people feel listened to, rather than being confronted with an esoteric and discredited ideology.


Joan Smith is a novelist and columnist. She has been Chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board since 2013. Her book Homegrown: How Domestic Violence Turns Men Into Terrorists was published in 2019.

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