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Departments: Equal Opportunities

Volume 457: debated on Tuesday 6 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department is taking to implement the gender equality duty due to come into force on 6 April. (120623)

The Department published a single equality scheme in December 2006 incorporating specific gender actions and has established a gender advisory group to advise the Department and act as a stakeholder forum when developing policy. The scheme will be further developed and refined in the light of comments received with a view to publishing an updated version in spring 2007.

In addition, the Department is producing “Creating a Gender Equality Scheme: A practical guide for the NHS” which will be published in the next few weeks. The Department is also supporting the national health service to implement current and emerging public sector equality duties by working with 18 different NHS organisations to develop their own single equality schemes. The learning and development of good practice from this project will be disseminated throughout the NHS.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she has taken to implement the Race Equality Duty since 2000. (120671)

The Departments Single Equality Scheme, published in December 2006 sets out the way in which the Department intends to meet its duties under the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000, the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and the Sex Discrimination Act as amended by the Equality Act 2006. The Department will also progress action on Religion or Belief, Sexual Orientation and Age. This Scheme updates and replaces the Department’s Race Equality Scheme.

In addition, the Department has undertaken a number of activities to promote equality and diversity in the national health service and particularly to support the NHS to meet its responsibilities under the various equalities legislation on race, disability and gender as well as regulations on age, religion and belief and sexual orientation. These include:

delivering Race Equality in mental health care—an action plan for reform of NHS mental health services, working towards equality of access, equality of experience and equality of outcome for all mental health service users.

the race for health programme—primary care trust (PCT)-led with support from the Department. It convenes a network of 13 PCTs around the country, working in partnership with local black and minority ethnic communities to improve health, modernise services, increase choice and create greater diversity within the NHS workforce.

developing and publishing ‘Promoting Equality and Human Rights in the NHS—a Guide for Board Members’ aimed at helping non-executive board members take forward the issues of equality and human rights with regard to patients and the workforce.

the Leadership and race equality action plan was launched in 2004 to give greater prominence to race equality in the NHS as part of the drive to improve health.