This weekend’s London Pride event has given opportunity to reflect, reflect on the wonderful colourful life the NHS encompasses. The NHS like any great organisation will be a fractal of society and as such will have its prejudices and its challenges, it is a smaller replica of the whole, like a floret of the broccoli replicating the whole head.
However, the underlying ethos of kindness and compassion supports us to challenge those prejudices, judgements and opinions we hold that we’re often unaware are based on a prejudiced foundation. I’m certain that all through our history our desire to do the right thing has on occasion been so based on unconscious bias that by default we have done the wrong thing. This fabulous celebratory weekend where I have seen friends, colleagues and strangers celebrate their own and each other’s diversity, creating fabulous memories, has been awe inspiring, especially at a time when it can feel we are going backwards with hate crime significantly increasing .
The importance of this ethos of embracing that which makes us individual, coupled with compassion and kindness at the end of someone’s life is crucial to supporting a positive experience not only for the person dying, but equally those that love them. Being able to connect with the person and celebrate the unique collage of their life in its entirety is fundamental to delivering high quality personalised care. I can recall being told at school “you are all as unique as snowflakes, each with your own pattern”, what happened between childhood and adulthood that makes us feel that we all need to conform to a certain formula of humanness?
The London Pride festival allowed me space to go back to that analogy of difference and value and embrace it . We hear stories of the difficulties it can cause when we try to impose our own beliefs and values on others, we hear of transsexuals being put into clothes following their death that would never reflect the life they have lived, or the gender they recognise themselves as. We hear inhumane stories that would break your heart; same sex couples denied the kindness and compassion afforded to heterosexual couples during and following death, or the person with intellectual disabilities whose choices at end of life are not explored in the same way as others, or the assumptions we make around people’s spiritual life.
This is not just about sexuality or gender issues, it is about difference, the uniqueness of humanity. We need to ensure all human beings are respected for who they are. This must continue to be challenged and remain a foundation stone of the NHS - thank you London Pride for empowering me to revisit and reaffirm my passion for an inclusive and compassionate community.