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NHS: Race and Equality

Volume 715: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many NHS organisations have not met their obligations under the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Equality Act 2006; and what action they propose in that regard. [HL531]

The department does not centrally hold data on how many National Health Service organisations meet their obligations to eliminate discrimination, and promote equality of opportunity and good relations under the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Equality Act 2006.

The department does not performance manage the NHS; this responsibility falls to strategic health authorities (SHAs), the majority of which have assurance systems in place for their trust's levels of compliance.

Because of the different approaches currently taken in each SHA, it is not possible to aggregate local evidence into a comprehensive national picture. Whole NHS evaluation of content, scope and quality of compliance would be costly and time-consuming, drawing resources away from other work including service delivery.

Delivering equality in relation to patients, the public and staff is central to the work of the department, the NHS and social care.

All NHS organisations must have due regard to the NHS Constitution, which puts equality at the heart, requiring the provision of “a comprehensive service, available to all irrespective of their belief.” The Constitution clearly sets out that all staff should be “treated fairly, equally and free from discrimination.”

To drive up equality performance in the NHS the department has recently established the NHS Equality and Diversity Council, chaired by the NHS Chief Executive, David Nicholson.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in appointing black and minority ethnic staff to senior positions in the National Health Service; and what initiatives are being pursued to increase the number of such staff in such positions. [HL534]

The department does not appoint staff to positions within the National Health Service, as this is the responsibility of individual organisations and trusts.

The department supports the NHS to operate as an employer of choice, attracting, recruiting and retaining the best talent from all communities.

All NHS organisations must have due regard to the NHS Constitution, which puts equality at its heart. The Constitution clearly sets out that staff should “be treated fairly, equally and free from discrimination.”

The newly formed NHS Equality and Diversity Council, chaired by David Nicholson the Chief Executive of the NHS, will be championing equality in the NHS and seeking assurances on future progress.

The department funds the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement to run programmes to support black and minority ethnic staff to improve their career prospects, such as Breaking Through and Top Talent. These aim to identify and support NHS staff from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, who have talent and potential, to develop their careers in the NHS, possibly successfully competing for senior leadership roles. With the NHS Institute, the Kings Fund runs a Transformational Leadership Programme aimed at increasing black and minority executive membership of NHS Boards.

The National Leadership Council supports and develops people in leadership roles across the NHS with a priority focus on inclusion.