NHS watchdog the Healthcare Commission to inspect health service trusts for race equality compliance

The NHS watchdog the Healthcare Commission is to inspect more than 40 NHS trusts to check they meeting a legal duty to promote race equality for staff and patients.

An audit by the health service watchdog has suggested high numbers of trusts still need to do more to publish all the information they are required to under legislation on equality.

The results from a web audit found that only 9% (35 out of 394) of NHS trusts are publishing everything they are required to under the Race Relations Act.

Last year, just seven trusts were fully compliant.

The Race Relations Act places a general duty on all public sector bodies to promote race equality by eliminating unlawful racial discrimination, promoting equality of opportunity and promoting good race relations between people of different ethnic groups.

The review teams will inspect trusts between December 2007 and February 2008, and consist of Healthcare Commission assessors, NHS staff and patient and public members.

The findings are also passed on to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has powers to warn and prosecute organisations that fail to meet their legal responsibilities.

Trusts fared better in terms of disability equality, with 82% publishing a scheme on their website.

Jamie Rentoul, the Healthcare Commission’s head of strategy, said: “With 1.4 million workers, the NHS is one of the biggest employers in the world – and almost 40% of these are from black and minority ethnic groups.

“In the provision of services and in the recruitment, management and development of their workforce, healthcare organisations can, therefore, play a crucial role in eliminating discrimination and promoting equality.”

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