Addenbrookes hospital is part of the CUH Trust and is the training hospital for Cambridge medicine students Dean Morley //

Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) has been described by staff as containing “a loud minority of bigots and sexist staff,” in an internal report seen by Varsity.

Staff feedback collected for the report noted that other staff regularly made “un-PC comments, particularly regarding trans staff”, with one gay male member of staff saying he occasionally “felt slightly uncomfortable at the questions or comments my colleagues have made.”

The Cambridge University Hospital’s (CUH) NHS Rainbow Badge Assessment, which Varsity obtained through an FOI request, revealed that CUH scored zero on two of the assessment areas and had an overall score of 41/165 across five different areas.

The CUH NHS Trust runs Cambridge’s two hospitals, Addenbrookes and Rosie Hospital, with Addenbrookes being the primary training hospital for Cambridge medical students.

The Rainbow Badge Assessment is the second phase of the NHS’ Rainbow Badge scheme, which was initially launched in 2018. The initial scheme was focused on providing basic education to staff on LGBT+ inclusion if they signed up for the project. The second phase, launched in 2021, moved the scheme to an assessment and accreditation model.

The assessment gives trusts who take part, a graded award which reflects their current LGBT inclusion work, and grades hospitals with bronze, silver or gold awards.

CUH failed to qualify for an award, only receiving silver in one assessment area and bronze in two. The Trust was instead labelled as being at an“initial stage”, rather than qualifying for a bronze rating.

Staff criticised the handling of discrimination by the trust, with one respondent saying they “have seen homophobia from staff and patients allowed to happen without consequence [...] despite it being raised as a problem.”

Another said: “Examples of sexism and homophobia raised with management [have been] met with ‘but he’s a good surgeon’.”

One member of staff claimed that discrimination is hard to prove given that the Trust “treat everyone badly”.

The assessment revealed that the Trust doesn’t systematically monitor LGBT+-related complaints made by patients nor does it identify and act on any LGBT+ inclusion issues raised at exit interviews or on exit surveys.

The staff survey revealed controversy about the assessment among staff with one calling the Rainbow Badges “performative”, while another called the scheme “mindless virtue signalling”. Others expressed their concern about the influence of the Rainbow Badge scheme on the Trust.

One staff response to the assessment said: “I am gravely concerned about the influence on the NHS of organisations like Mermaids and Stonewall.” Another staff member said that they are “concerned this has now come to Addenbrooke’s”.

Staff expressed their opinions on the scheme and the encouragement of inclusive language within the Trust. One commented: “Isn’t it dangerous for the NHS to start eroding normal language.”

Some staff used the survey to complain about the scheme, one saying: “Stop imposing it on me” and another commenting that “LGB staff [should] not [be] subsumed by [the] T.”

Others used the survey to express their own views on LGBT+ inclusive policy. One member of staff said they “can’t even state a simple and undeniable biological fact that there are only two genders”.

They continue by saying that the “LGBT community is riddled with phobias and it is the most discriminatory and intolerant community that I’ve encountered.”

The CUH scored 0 on the Patients Survey and the Services Survey, which make up 93 marks of the total 165.

The Trust was found to not have enough LGBT+ inclusive posters visible to patients and only 5% of patient respondents were asked their pronouns when receiving care. Less than 50% of patient respondents (which is needed to gain a mark) were asked to confirm their gender, sexual orientation and any trans history they may have when they received care.

The CUH also scored zero for the Services component of the assessment, which examined the Gynaecology, Maternity/Perinatal, Laboratory/Pathology, Oncology and Fertility units. However, only one of these services actually responded to the survey, resulting in the zero score. 

A CUH spokesperson said that the results of the report “are being used with the LGBT+ staff network to support our refreshed LGBT+ action plan and overall EDI plans”.


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“Since 2017 we have commissioned the Kite Trust to provide regular LGBT+ awareness training half-day workshops for all staff,” they continued.

“We have 12,500 staff but this survey, open during four weeks May/June, had a low response rate as it was a time of industrial action and operational pressures,” they said.

They concluded: “All forms of discrimination, harassment and victimisation will not be tolerated and we will continue to educate our staff and leaders on how to tackle incidents, raise concerns and the signpost to the relevant processes and sources of support”.

The assessment had 331 staff respondents and 74 patient respondents.