New guide published to promote equality and diversity in the NHS
Jul 23, 2005 - 1:29:38 AM

The Department of Health, the NHS Appointments Commission and the NHS Confederation today published a new Guide to help promote equality and human rights in the NHS.

The Guide targeted at NHS Boards, and Non-Executive Directors in particular, contains details of current and imminent legislation, vital statistical information on communities, patients and the workforce, and a set of 15 prompts to enable Boards to embed good equality and human rights practices into their decision-making and the performance of their organisations. As a result, the NHS will be able to maintain its commitment to providing fairer, faster and personalised services to communities and patients, and recruit, develop and retain the best talent in its workforce.

The NHS currently employs over 14% of its workforce from black and minority ethnic backgrounds and almost 75% are women, and is at the forefront of promoting equality and human rights within both national and local economies.

Health Minister, Rosie Winterton said:

"I am proud to announce the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Guide today. If the NHS is to maintain and develop its position as a world-class service, it must be a service that treats its patients and staff with fairness, dignity and respect. This means respecting people's age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, race and faith. Discrimination on these grounds, which leads to people being treated unfairly, is unacceptable in the culture and practice of the Department of Health, NHS and social services. The Guide will help NHS Boards to deliver appropriate, personalised services to the diverse communities they serve and to be employers of choice that recruit, develop and retain the best talent from all communities."

Surinder Sharma (Equality and Human Rights Group, Department of Health) said:

"The Equality and Human Rights Guide will make a real difference. It reminds the NHS of its legal responsibilities for equality and human rights. The Guide provides the NHS with a series of prompts to help NHS Boards review their policies and practices towards equality and human rights. The Guide also includes a comprehensive set of Vital Information that the NHS can use and adapt to generate their own local data on health inequalities and workforce issues. This local information can then be used to build up a powerful and robust business case for equality and human rights, which in turn can inform local NHS policy making. I expect NHS Boards to work with me in making sustained improvements to services and workforce practices for all communities based on use of the Guide."

NHS Appointments Commission chief executive Roger Moore said:

"This guide makes a new and substantial contribution to information on equality matters that will enable non-executive members of NHS Boards to provide an even better service within health. It contains background to legislation and important health data that will promote greater understanding and awareness among Board members of these vital issues. We will be ensuring that Board members receive the guide and will be using it extensively in NHS Appointments Commission training and induction programmes."

Dr Gill Morgan, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation whose members include more than 90% of NHS organisations throughout the UK, said:

"Equity of access to treatment for all patients is a founding principle of the NHS and so we wholeheartedly support the publication of this new guide for non-executive directors.

"We also agree that NHS organisations need to demonstrate they are employers of choice and NHS Employers, part of the NHS Confederation, is now responsible for the majority of health service workforce issues including equality and diversity.

"We help NHS employers and professional bodies to ensure that equality and diversity is at the heart of everything they do by taking a strategic approach and by sharing examples of good practice.

"NHS Employers looks forward to working with the Department of Health in driving forward this work programme."

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