For Pride Month, trainee clinical scientist at The Royal London Hospital, Vala Biggart, reflects on her experience as a LGBTQ+ member of staff at Barts Health, and explains why Pride Month is important to her.
What is your role at Barts Health, and what have you been up to lately?
As a trainee clinical scientist, I am based at The Royal London helping out in the biochemistry laboratory with patient blood tests, and learning how to interpret results. Lately, I’ve been helping to develop a tumour marker test on a new piece of equipment. As a trainee, I am also undertaking a part-time Msc, so there’s always studying to do as well!
How has your role changed during the pandemic?
During the peak of the pandemic, I was redeployed to the NHS Nightingale to assist with the point-of-care testing provision. I am usually not based on a ward, so this was a very different environment. The dedication and adaptability of the people I met working there is something I will forever be in awe of.
How has your experience been as a LGBTQ+ member of staff at Barts Health? Are you a member of the staff LGBTQ+ network?
My experience as an LGBTQ+ staff member at Barts Health has been overwhelmingly positive. Other staff members are very supportive, and having a cross-site staff LGBTQ+ network means we can meet others from across the whole trust to hear their experiences. I have been a member of the staff LGBTQ+ network for around a year, and in this time a lot of work has been done on how we can improve safety, experiences and outcomes for our LGBTQ+ patients, particularly our transgender patients.
Why is Pride month important to you?
Pride month is important to me as a time to remember our history, celebrate how far we’ve come, and to recognise what still needs to change. It is a time of community, and that is something we need now more than ever. This year, we can’t have our usual parades and celebrations, but this doesn’t mean our community isn’t active; a lot of our educational meetings have moved online. Pride at its inception was a struggle for rights and equality. In-keeping with this, many of the LGBTQ+ community are also focussing on supporting our BAME friends, family and colleagues and the Black Lives Matter movement.