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Health Services: Equality

Volume 468: debated on Monday 26 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he plans to take to improve the compliance of primary care trusts with the public sector gender duties; and what support the Government will provide to NHS organisations to help them reduce gender inequalities in health outcomes. (163934)

The Department is committed to tackling gender inequalities within the health and social care sector by recognising the specific health needs of men and women. There has been increased awareness amongst healthcare professionals of the correlation between gender and health and its impact on access, quality of health care and medical treatment for men and women. The Department’s commitment to create a patient-centred service which extends choice and is responsive to all patients and users, especially with regards to the gender perspective will ensure that any gender differences in treatment and access are eliminated.

The Department commissioned the Men’s Health Forum to work with five primary care trusts (PCTs) to develop a tool to assist PCTs in providing gender sensitive services. PCTs will be able to identify where changes can be made and how to approach the implementation of the gender duty. The results of this project—the “Gender Equity Audit” report was launched on 6 November 2006 at the Men’s Health Forum Conference—Putting Gender on the NHS Agenda: Implementing the Gender Equality Duty in the NHS.

Research is currently being undertaken by the Department, on the different way men and women access health services and what difference this has on health outcomes. It is intended that the outcomes of this research will provide the evidence base to identify actions to take in tackling gender health inequalities. The research will target a range of national health service organisations, including PCTs, and will take account of overlapping inequality issues such as age, ethnicity, sexual orientation.

The Department has produced and disseminated guidance for the NHS by developing “Creating a Gender Equality Scheme: A practical guide for the NHS” and “10 Steps to Developing Your Single Equality Schemes” web guidance. A series of regional and national events recently disseminated guidance on developing Single Equality Schemes that incorporate the requirements of the gender equality duty. A further series of local events is currently under consideration.

The Department’s Equality and Human Rights Group has established the Gender Equality Advisory Group to bring together key stakeholders in developing and prioritising gender actions which will inform the prioritisation of departmental policy and initiatives to provide ongoing support for the NHS.