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NHS: Equality

Volume 488: debated on Monday 2 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department has taken in co-operation with voluntary sector organisations on (a) developing gender-sensitive policies and (b) reducing gender inequalities in the NHS in the last five years. (259644)

The Department is committed to ensuring that health and social care services promote gender equality. This is set out as a core principle in the NHS Constitution for England, which was developed in consultation with a range of voluntary sector organisations and was published on 21 January 2009.

Over the past five years the Department has continued to work in co-operation with voluntary sector organisations on gender equality, including:

convening a Gender Equality Advisory Group (GEAG), including voluntary sector organisations, to advise the Department on current health inequality trends and providing a consultative forum on outward-facing policy initiatives that impact on the NHS;

issuing guidance, developed with GEAG and published in March 2007 on “Creating a Gender Equality Scheme: A practical guide for the NHS” to ensure that all NHS organisations understand their gender equality duties. A copy has already been placed in the Library. Similar guidance was published in November 2008 specifically on transgender issues: “Trans: A practical guide for the NHS” and a copy has been placed in the Library; and

commissioning research into the different ways in which men and women access health services.

As we move forward, gender inequalities will be a key area for our new third sector Strategic Partner Programme where we are investing in 11 third sector organisations, including the Men’s Health Forum, to develop the capability of the sector and ensure they have an informed and coherent voice influencing health and social care policy.

We are also supporting a new ‘Women’s health and equalities consortium’ which includes six national women’s organisations led by YWCA, the establishment of this consortium offers a new opportunity to ensure that the women’s voluntary sector are able to inform policy and affect change particularly gender inequalities.