We are now a year into the project and halfway through the data collection, working at full capacity with nine LGBT+ networks in different NHS organisations spread across England, Wales and Scotland. These include one community health services trust, three mental health trusts, two acute teaching hospital trusts, one service provider, an ambulance trust and a health board.
Working with the networks so far has given us an insight into how they operate, what they focus on and how they are strategically involved in LGBT+ related matters within their organisations. That said, we have a lot more to learn from the networks and will be conducting a robust analysis of their practices. What we can say now is that networks do differ in size and shape and how they are operationalised, but they also share some common ground, particularly around membership and representation. We look forward to sharing our findings on this in due course.
Online forum – join the conversation
The online forum was launched in February and we now have over hundred users. This platform is open to NHS staff and students currently training within the NHS. The forum offers a great opportunity to discuss what is going on in your own organisation and the challenges you may be facing, to find out how other networks are doing, and above all, to connect with NHS staff across the UK. You do not need to be a member of LGBT+ networks to be a part of the conversation, in fact, your views and experiences of LGBT+ staff networks are equally as important.
Current discussion topics revolve around membership and how to setup networks, but they also concern issues such as the importance of monitoring sexual orientation and what networks can contribute to this process. Conversations such as these are important to us as they signal that these concerns and questions are not limited to the networks directly involved in our study. We would encourage you to get involved and join the discussions to further make your mark on this research.
National online survey
An integral element of this research will be a national online survey which aims to get 10,000 responses from NHS staff. Over the summer, the survey will be shaped and tested with help from the different groups. Dr Melisa Sayli will be joining the research team later this month to work on survey design and dissemination. The survey will be carried out in two waves. The first wave will be targeted at HR directors and the second wave will reach out to all NHS staff. In part, our survey questions will be based on our work with the nine LGBT+ networks, but we will also be using a range of tested survey instruments to help us further map the workings of employee networks and their impact. We welcome your input and assistance on this. The timing of the survey has not yet been finalised, but we envisage the first one to be launched in the autumn and the second one at the start of 2019. You will hear more about this soon, so watch this space.
On the horizon
Our plans to turn research findings into theatre are coming off the ground with the script writer Adam Robinson on board. As a research team, we are very excited to explore and develop the boundaries between the humanities and social sciences and to generate alternative ways of connecting with people on social issues. We are also in the early stages of our mobile app development to connect people invested in LGBT+ networks.