The health service is the second most gay friendly employment sector, according to Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

Nine NHS organisations were listed among the top 100 employers for 2014, an increase from six last year by the charity that fights discrimination against gay people.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust was rated at the second most gay friendly employer in the UK – up from fourth place last year.

The other NHS organsations to make the top 100 are:

  • London Ambulance Service Trust (19)
  • Central and North West London Foundation Trust (23)
  • Oxleas Foundation Trust (52)
  • South East Coast Ambulance Service Trust (61)
  • Liverpool Community Health Trust (66)
  • Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust (86)
  • County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust (96)
  • Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust (100)

Carola Towle, national officer for LGBT equality of the health union Unison, said:

“Overall the NHS has quite a good track record on equality, but certainly in recent years there’s been so much progress made.”

However, she said “levels of unwillingness or discomfort around talking about sexual orientation has stayed quite high”.

“I think it’s particularly for people in intimate caring roles, there’s a certain amount of prejudice, or fear of prejudice, that holds people back,” she said.

Ms Towle added there needed to be greater consistency across the NHS. “You will always get these excellent pockets, but sometimes it can be quite dependent… on certain people being in key positions.”

She added that even within a particular trust “you can have quite different experiences in different parts of the trust”.

Rachel Phillips, chair of Nottinghamshire Healthcare’s LGBT forum, said equality in the is “embedded in everything from procurement to service delivery”. The trust will only procure services from an organisation if it adheres to its equality policies.

Ms Phillips said from her first day induction “they made it very clear… that no assumptions were going to be made about whether your partner was male or female”.

Catherine Conchar, the trust’s first head of equality and diversity, was appointed in November 2008.

In the year she joined the trust, it was placed 169 in Stonewall’s workplace equality index. The following year, it jumped 150 places to 19th position.

Ms Conchar said “a lot of that was pulling together” what the trust was already doing.

More recently, she said “one of our biggest areas” is finding positive gay role models within the organisation.

The trust introduced an executive mentoring scheme for underrepresented groups, including lesbian, gay and bisexual members of staff, as well as a ‘Straight Allies’ programme, which the trust’s chief executive and chair have both signed up for.  

Ms Conchar said: “We cannot get rid of people who are homophobic and racist, but we can make sure that they are not homophobic and racist while they work for us”.

Dean Royles, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “Far too many people face discrimination and abuse every day because of their sexuality. This is therefore a great recognition for the NHS, which is aware of its high profile and tries hard to show leadership on respecting colleagues in the workplace.”