Ambulance service named in top 100 for LGBT staff

Ben Barber, Proud@NEAS staff network Chair; Yvonne Ormston, chief executive; Mark Johns, engagement manager.
Ben Barber, Proud@NEAS staff network Chair; Yvonne Ormston, chief executive; Mark Johns, engagement manager.

A north east trust has been named the best health and social care provider in the UK in the 2018 Stonewall Top 100 Employers list.

The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), which employs more than 2,500 people, including an estimated 250 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees, returned to its highest ever ranking of 46th in this year’s list.

As well as being the highest ranking health and social care organisation in the UK, NEAS is also the top ranked NHS foundation trust and the top performing ambulance service in the UK.

Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers, now in its 14th year, is the definitive list showcasing the best employers for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff.

The list is compiled from submissions to the Workplace Equality Index, an annual audit of the workplace culture.

Catherine Young, Acting NEAS Chairman and board champion for equality, said: “It’s fantastic to see we have made such great progress and are back in Stonewall’s top 50 list of employers.”

Yvonne Ormston, Chief Executive, added: “We are really proud that the effort we’ve made over recent years to make services and employment opportunities more inclusive for LGBT people has been recognised in this way.

“As an emergency service which deals with the public on a daily basis, treating employees and patients fairly and according to their specific needs is one of our fundamental principles.”

“But it’s not just about our patients. We understand that people work better when they can be themselves and for that to happen we need to create an inclusive working environment that values the contribution everyone makes.”

Paramedic and Frontline Manager Ben Sargent, who chairs the trust’s LGBT staff network, Proud@NEAS, said: “As a gay man, it’s really important for me to know that my employer values the contribution I and other LGBT people make and supports me to be myself in the workplace, free from harassment and discrimination.

“The trust has involved the Proud@NEAS group in all of its work to improve LGBT equality for patients and employees.

“This top 50 ranking recognises the time and effort our dedicated employees have put in to improvements in our trust as part of our network and we’re really proud to be able to celebrate this success.”

This year’s ranking reflects efforts at NEAS to engage with LGBT employees in addition to making improvements to services and employment practices for employees and patients.

Over the last year this has included:

• Improving support for transgender and non-binary employees and patients through new call taker guidance, a new policy and a series of lunch and learn sessions to help employees better understand trans issues.

• Developing a campaign entitled Bring Your Whole Self To Work.

• Improving engagement with LGBT patients and stakeholders at Pride events.

• Holding events with other regional partners.

• Reaching out to LGBT communities to better understand people’s needs.