English NHS trusts fail in their duties under race relations rules

Hardly any NHS trusts appear to be fulfilling all their duties under race relations legislations, the Health Care Commission has found.

A study of all 570 NHS trusts across England revealed that just seven had published information under the 2000 Race Relations (Amendment) Act on their websites.

Details of a race equality scheme and action plan setting out how the organisation will make race equality “central to all its functions” has to be published by law and reviewed every three years.

The Department of Health will now write to NHS chief executives asking for a prompt response to the findings.

The commission’s study found:

  • seven of the 570 trusts had all of the required information readily accessible
  • nearly one-third of the trust websites had none of the required information
  • 60% of websites had an updated plan setting out how the organisation would make race equality central to all its functions
  • 6% of the websites included statistics showing the ethnic profile of the workforce
  • 2% outlined what action had been taken to address problems related to race equality rules

Carol Baxter, head of equality and diversity at NHS Employers, said the findings clearly showed that there was a lot of work to be done to ensure that trusts are fully compliant with race relations legislation. 

“Race relations is high on the agendas of more than 300 trusts that have signed up to our Positively Diverse programme which requires them to have board-level commitment to equality and diversity principles and to having policies in place to enforce them,” she said. “Many employers are choosing to incorporate the requirements of all this legislation into one over-arching single equality scheme which will be clearer for the public.”

In February the Commission for Racial Equality said government departments were “perilously close” to being subjected to enforcement action for failure to deliver on their legal duties under the Race Relations Amendment Act (2000).

By law, central government departments are required to assess new policies and legislation for their impact on race equality through Race Equality Impact Assessments.

The Commission for Racial Equality found 15 government departments were not complying with the duty, and eight of them hadn’t carried out a single assessment between April 2004 and March 2005, despite developing hundreds of policies.

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