Sexual orientation


To help you better understand and address the issues relating to sexual orientation in the workplace, this page provides a summary of information, tools, resources and best practice to help you create a culture and environment that welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff, allowing them to be themselves at work and to contribute fully to the wider organisation.

Health and Care LGBTQ+ Leaders Network

In June 2020 the NHS Confederation launched a new network for LGBTQ+ leaders and allies from a diverse range of roles and backgrounds across health and care. The network is a platform for the LGBTQ+ community to listen, share and engage with peers and wider stakeholders to: 

  • increase the numbers and visibility of LGBTQ+ people on boards and in senior leadership to influence change across the system
  • improve the experience of LGBTQ+ staff so they can work in an inclusive and supportive environment where they can thrive
  • improve the experience of LGBTQ+ patients and ensure that they receive the best care.

Visit Health and Care LGBTQ+ Leaders Network to find out more information and to join. You can also follow the network on Twitter @NHSC_LGBTQ.

On 21 July 2020, NHS Employers in partnership with the Health and Care LGBTQ+ Leaders Network hosted a virtual event Responding to LGBTQ+ equalities during COVID-19 and beyond to explore the inequalities experienced by LGBTQ+ people, and in particular those experiences of LGBTQ+ healthcare staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.    

National reports

In Oct 2019, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee published the Health and Social Care and LGBT Communities report. The report highlighted the view that LGBT people are being let down in health and social care, by structures and services that are not inclusive or designed with them in mind. LGBT people were expected to fit into systems that assume they are straight and cisgender. But the Committee has found that deep inequalities exist in health outcomes for these communities and that treating them the same as non-LGBT people will not address these poor outcomes

Similarly In 2015, Stonewall published a report called
Unhealthy Attitudes. The report emphasized that one in seven LGBT people have avoided seeking NHS care because they were concerned that they would experience discrimination. The same research also highlighted over half of NHS staff don’t think sexual orientation is relevant to healthcare, and one in every fourteen members of NHS staff say they would feel uncomfortable working alongside a trans colleague. Many NHS staff feel they don’t have the knowledge or confidence to stand up for LGBT patients and colleagues who might need it. 


Furthermore In 2018, Stonewall published a report with YouGov called LGBT in Britain: Health Report. The report is the latest in a series on the state-of-the-nation LGBT in Britain, which uncovers the alarmingly high rates of poor mental health experienced by lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) in Britain today.

In November 2018
the Government published the LGBT Action Plan. The four-year plan contains more than 75 commitments aimed at improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Some of the key actions include: Appointing a national LGBT health adviser to provide leadership on reducing the health inequalities that LGBT people face; Extending the anti-homophobic, b-iphobic and transphobic bullying programme in schools; Bringing forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK; and Taking further action on LGBT hate crime – improving the recording and reporting of, and police response to, hate crime.

In response the NHS in March 2019 announced the appointment of the first ever National Advisor for LGBT Health in the NHS, Dr Michael Brady, the Medical Director of the Terrence Higgins Trust and HIV consultant at Kings College Hospital. Subsequently Dr Brady has developed an
action plan setting how he will be working with the NHS to address key LGBT issues. Most recently he shared his plans during a session on the NHS Employers partners programme module.

In 2018, Stonewall published a report with YouGov called LGBT in Britain: Health Report. The report is the latest in a series on the state-of-the-nation LGBT in Britain, which uncovers the alarmingly high rates of poor mental health experienced by LGBT in Britain. In the past year alone, half of LGBT people have experienced depression and three in five have suffered from anxiety, far exceeding estimates for the general population.

In July 2019 the government published the first LGBT Action Plan Annual Progress Report 2018 to 2019.

Research on LGBT+ staff networks

NHS Employers has been working closely with the University of York and their research team to develop a better understanding of how LGBT+ networks are run and what they can do to improve relationships between colleagues. Ultimately, our goal is to improve the wellbeing of LGBT employees.

You can find more information on the work on LGBT on the NHS England website

Further resources

Sexual Orientation Monitoring Standard (2017) The National Information Standard for sexual orientation monitoring aims to better meet the needs of LGBT people through improved data collection. The standard also provides a mechanism for recording the sexual orientation of all patients and service users aged 16 years and over across all health services and Local Authority social care providers in England.   
Sexual orientation reading list The Equality  and Human Rights Commission has produced this useful reading list.
Top 100 Employers' list for 2019

This list is created by LGBT charity Stonewall, features six health and social care organisations, and includes three new entries for the sector and three existing ones from previous years. Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust ranked highest in the sector this year at number 28, and jumped an impressive 67 places, after coming 95th in 2018. Three new entries to the list this year include: Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (77th), University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (84th), and the NHS Business Services Authority (88th).

LGBT+ role models bring yourself to work

The LGBT + staff network at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust have developed a publication titled CNWL LGBT+ role models bring yourself to work designed to encourage and inspire people to come to work as themselves.

Guessing our colleagues’ gay and lesbian identities can be harmful Anna Einarsdóttir a senior lecturer in organisational behaviour, theory and technology at the York Management School, talks about how problems can arise when identities and stereotypes are either matched or mismatched. 
The National LGB&T Partnership The National LGB&T Partnership was established in order to reduce health inequalities and challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia within public services.  The partnership combines the expertise of twelve key LGBT organisations across England.
Trans Unite Trans Unite allows members of the transgender & non-binary communities to find a support group local to them (or even an online-only group). 
Stonewall - sexual orientation employer toolkit Stonewall has developed a sexual orientation employer toolkit which introduces employers to the practical steps they can take to make their workplaces more inclusive. 
LGBT issues at work The NHS Confederations Mental Health Network in Oct 2019, produced a podcast focusing on LGBTQ+ visibility in the workforce.
UNISON LGBT resources UNISON has a helpful resource library with information on the key issues affecting LGBT members. 
Health and Social Care and LGBT Communities report 2019

This report highlight the deep inequalities faced by LGBT communities. 

LGBT Action Plan 2018 This cross government LGBT action plan outlines firm commitments to tackle some of the biggest issues facing LGBT people. 
Faith, sexuality and identity digital stories These stories were created to explore the interactions and intersections between faith, sexuality and identity, and how those complex influences affect health and well-being.

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