LGBTQ  month blog 2024

LGBT+ History Month 2024 - My healthcare hero

This month, in celebration of LGBT+ History Month's medicine theme, we’re reflecting on some of the progress made over the years.  

Helen, from our LGBTQ+ network, interviewed Patrick Price, the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED and I) Lead at a local trust, discussing his 30-year career in the NHS. Their conversation highlights the significance of genuine passion for what you do, collaboration, and connections. 

I got chatting to Patrick after sharing a lift from our running club. We asked about each other’s jobs and discovered we both work for the NHS, and as we both have a passion for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion we were soon non-stop chatting! We discussed the lived experience networks in both of our organisations, and it was immediately obvious how much Patrick cared about the support and wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community and wider. At this point, we had only brushed the surface of the work Patrick’s been involved in!  

Patrick’s career has been led by his commitment to advocating for LGBTQ+ equality. I sat down with Patrick to find out more about how sharing his own experiences has supported him in contributing to shaping some of the services offered in the north east which are crucial to the community… 

Patrick, can you tell us about your experience working for 30 years in the NHS? 

Patrick - I’m currently the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead for Northumbria Trust but I’ve had a varied career. Initially with the Public Health/Health Promotion service establishing sexual health services in Northumberland, and then as a senior manager in Community Health Services overseeing district nursing, speech and language therapies, Learning Disability Services, Talking Therapies, community palliative care, podiatry, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy Services and the Community Learning and Development team amongst others.  

During that time, I established several staff network groups across the trust and Northumberland Council including a network for LGBTQ+ staff. Before that, I worked in one of the first gay men’s HIV prevention programmes in the UK, and as a sign language interpreter. 

It’s amazing the scope you’ve covered over the years and across different intersections of characteristics. Could you tell us about your roots and how you started working in health and social care? 

P - I was born and raised in a large working class Catholic family in Middlesbrough in the early 1960s. I was the first in my family to enter further education and moved to the Midlands. In the 70s and early 80s there was little information about being gay that was not negatively framed, so from a personal level, I became aware of the inequities that existed for the gay community and the myths that fed negative stereotypes. 

After completing a degree in Theology at Birmingham University (where I joined the LGB society), and working with d/Deaf communities in Birmingham, I returned to the North East to live in Newcastle/Gateshead to be closer to my family. 

When I left Birmingham in the mid-1980s I was aware of increasing numbers of gay and bisexual men who were HIV positive or had AIDS, and that their experience of health and social care support was not always as positive as it should have been. As much because of the fear and negative publicity that HIV/AIDS generated and initiatives from the then government that attempted to further marginalise LGBTQ+ communities e.g. Section 28 of the Local Government Act. 

When I moved back, I wanted to make a contribution to increasing a more balanced understanding of what being gay meant. And to support the local LGBTQ+ community to become more visible and get involved in shaping their own welfare, supporting a more positive understanding of our experience. 

You’re so personally driven in everything you do. 

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live through the AIDS crisis, how did you start tackling awareness within your work? 

P -Throughout my career in healthcare, I have always been an ‘out’ gay man and have used my own lived experience to address any misinformation about what being part of this community means.  

Awareness and understanding are key in tackling any issue faced while ensuring we look after those affected.

I’ve split out my story to talk through a bit of a timeline: 

1986-90, working with AIDS North


I was working with LGBTQ+ volunteers to establish AIDS North to provide education on HIV working with clinical staff and social workers/youth workers in the north east.  
During this time, I remember being involved in HIV awareness campaigns promoting safer sex in Newcastle town centre and participating in a kiss-in at the Monument. I also performed in an LGB band at Newcastle’s inaugural Pride event. Holding Pride events in the north east was the first time the LGBTQ+ community had been so visible, and I think enabled people to see the importance of our contribution to local culture. It also signalled to local LGBTQ+ people that there was a place for them in the north east.

1990-94, working with Men who have Sex with Men – Action in the Community (MESMAC) 

I became one of the Community Development Workers in the first national programme to develop prevention and community support programmes for gay and bisexual men, and those who had sex with men but did not identify as gay or bi. I was also our representative on a local young people’s project called ‘Streetwise’ that provided information and support for local young people, including those who were LGBTQ+. 

1994 – 2019, Northumbria Health Authority, Teenage Health Demonstration Partnership, LGBT+ staff Network 

I joined Northumbria Health Authority as it was then, initially to establish Genitourinary (GU) Services in Northumberland but progressed to become Health Improvement Manager. I was responsible for public health programmes, including a Department of Health funded teenage health demonstration partnership that included supporting LGBTQ+ youth health and wellbeing programmes. 

Following the merger between Northumbria Healthcare Trust and Northumberland Council Adult Services, I was appointed as a general manager and led the development of a joint LGBT+ staff network, as well as managing Community Health Services and the County Council Learning Development Unit and Leisure Services.  

During this time, I was also leading Equality, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives across both organisations, sat on several boards for national LGBTQ+ research programmes, and became chair of the Northumberland Sports partnership and vice chair of RISE, the regional Sports partnership. When I was there, I took a lead in ensuring that the voices of LGBTQ+ were heard to help reduce the health inequalities experienced by our communities. Often the community has had a negative experience when it came to participation in sports and subsequently a range of opportunities for the community to participate in sports and feel that they belong on the same basis as anyone else has developed including Frontrunners, Panthers football club, Newcastle Ravens Rugby Club and the Geordie Grand Slammers tennis club.  

2019 – Now, becoming Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust and working with Northumberland Pride 

Now, I head up work to ensure the trust is truly inclusive for both staff and patients. I have also worked with Northumberland Pride to develop engagement programmes with local LGBTQ+ communities and participate in organisational stalls to promote the Trust as a positive workplace. 

Beyond my work… 

I have been involved in the Northern Proud Voices community choir which also performed at a number of regional Pride events. I have also recently become Chair of Newcastle Frontrunners, an international LGBTQ+ and ally friendly running club, having been involved with the club for over ten years. 

In recognition of my involvement in local LGBTQ+ politics and campaigning I have been involved in a project “Handing on Our History” which has been promoted in Newcastle Hospital sites, highlighting local LGBTQ+ member’s contributions to improving the experience of our LGBTQ+ Communities. The project reinforced to me the importance of visibility for our community, not just in relation to health access for LGBTQ+ communities but also in building the recognition that we have made such an important contribution to the culture of the north east. 

That’s an amazing overview, thank you, Patrick. There’s a lot in what you’ve said that we can all resonate with about what drives you to be an activist, why being proud of who you are is incredibly important, the importance of our connections, and of allies across the characteristics. It’s great to see the work you’ve covered, and how much you care and strive towards equality 

I think we can all learn a lot from Patrick – through his ethos and his guiding principles, he’s stayed authentic to who he is throughout his career. I’m really inspired by Patrick and all the brilliant work he’s done in the health and social care sector. 

We know we still have a way to go, but the sort of work and drive Patrick has had is critical in ensuring we’re creating an equal and accessible healthcare system for our LGBTQ+ friends, family, and colleagues. For all of this, Patrick is my healthcare hero!