The Department of Health puts equality, diversity and rights at the heart of all its business. We have developed a systemic approach to considering equality as a matter of course in policy development and service design. The Department also has a wider social duty to promote equality through the health and care system and to pay particular attention to groups or sections of society where improvements in health and care outcomes are not keeping pace with the rest of the population.
The Equality Act 2010 obliges the Department to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty which also applies to all statutory health and social care organisations, and others carrying out public functions on their behalf. The Duty supports good decision-making by ensuring public bodies consider how different people will be affected by their activities, helping them to deliver policies and services which are efficient and effective; accessible to all; and which meet different people’s needs.
Public authorities for the purpose of the Act are listed in Schedule 19. All statutory health and social care organisations such as primary care, foundation and NHS trusts, special and strategic health authorities and regulators are currently listed as public authorities. While DH will remain responsible for the health and care legislative framework Under the proposals set out in the Health and Social Care Bill 2010-11, most day-to-day operational management in the NHS will take place at arm’s length from the Department. With the exception of the remaining special health authorities, all organisations in the NHS will have their own statutory functions conferred by legislation, rather than delegated to them by the Secretary of State. This will mean that the NHS Commissioning Board, clinical commissioning groups and other bodies proposed by the Health and Social Care Bill 2010-11 will become subject to the Equality Duty once they are established in law.
The Department takes a proportionate approach to meeting its Equality Duty which may not always entail producing separate documents called equality impact assessments. For each function or policy that has the potential to have a substantial effect on discrimination or equality of opportunity, officials consciously think about the three aims of the public sector equality duty as part of the process of decision-making and keep records showing how they have done so. Where it is clear from initial consideration that a policy will not have any effect on equality, no further analysis is undertaken.
As part of consolidated action to strengthen compliance with the Equality Duty, in September 2010 the Department entered into a voluntary 18 month Framework Agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission. All Directors General committed to ensuring that equality was integral to planning and reform activities and this was overseen by the Department’s Equality and Human Rights Assurance Group. The Agreement has helped us make progress towards our aim of fully mainstreaming equality, diversity and rights into the foundation of Department’s core business as an employer, policy maker and the leader of the health and social care system England. A summary of the Department’s quarterly reports submitted to the Commission under the Voluntary Agreement can be found below.
The Equality Duty is underpinned by specific duties requiring public authorities to publish equality objectives at least every four years and information to demonstrate their compliance with the Equality Duty annually, including information relating to their employees and others affected by their policies and practices, such as service users. The publication of this information will ensure that public authorities are transparent about their performance on equality. This transparency will drive the better performance of the Duty without burdening public authorities with unnecessary bureaucratic processes, or the production of superfluous documents.
Information about how we are responding to the specific duties in the Equality Act 2010 is set out below. This includes equality information about our employees, links to equality impact assessments (or equality analyses) published elsewhere on this website as well as detailed information on the health and social care data collections and evidence from independent sources that were used to inform the key decisions taken by the Department since April 2011. Information about local health and social care organisations’ compliance with the Equality Duty, including information about each listed organisation’s workforce, can be found on their own websites.
This information will be updated regularly to help patients and the public see how the Department is using equality evidence in performing its functions. We will identify and fill any gaps in equality data as part of an ongoing effort to make such data as transparent and accessible as possible.
Please send questions, comments and suggestions to the equalities team.