The Equality Act 2010 places certain responsibilities on public sector organizations such as hospitals.
- To eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimization
- Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not
- Foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not
- To publish equality objectives at least every four years
- Provide information to demonstrate their compliance with the equality duty at least annually
Currently the public sector Equality Duty applies to all public authorities, including NHS organizations, so covers Acute hospitals, primary care trusts, strategic health authorities, mental health and community trusts, ambulance trusts and all foundation trusts.
So what does this mean for our Practice – well at present, there is no obligation for us to publish Equality Objectives. However we take our responsibilities seriously and share the ethos of this initiative.
Therefore we offer this commitment to our staff and patients: that we will not discriminate against any person on the grounds of:
- Gender reassignment
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Race – this include ethnic or national origins, colour or nationality
- Religion or belief – this includes lack of belief
- Sexual orientation
Furthermore the practice, in accordance with the Equality Act, also explicitly recognizes that disabled peoples’ needs may be different from those of non-disabled people.
For example, our practice premises are audited each year to ensure that we comply with the requirements of the Equality Duty Act. So we provide disabled car parking spaces, lowered section of our reception desk, hearing loop and wheelchair accessibility. In addition, the Practice Manager has attended specific training around the needs of patients who are partially sighted or blind, those with learning disabilities patients who are hearing impaired. This training has been cascaded through the staff team. The records of those patients are duly noted in order to prompt the reception team to offer additional help as required.
The practice has a range of policies that apply to all staff and visitors to the building, which cover every aspect of our duties under the Equality Act. These ensure that all our staff are treated fairly and without discrimination in any form.
For our patients, we will not discriminate in the offer of Admission to our practice list, treatment or service. The only limitation (not covered by the Equality Duty Act) is that of geographical location. This is to ensure that we are able to offer a full service, so meeting the Health & Social Care Bill requirement to provide local services for local people.
Through Solihull Health, the local clinical Commissioning group, we will try to ensure that any decisions about policies, service improvement or implementation take account of disabled peoples’ needs through appropriate consultation. When Solihull Health becomes a legal entity in its own right, it will have a responsibility under the Act, to publish its own Equality Policy and Objectives.
As mentioned at the start of this document, there are legal obligations on certain public bodies to publish their Quality Objectives by 6th April 2012. In order to do this they are basing their objectives on the equality information that they collect. For example, the police authority when reviewing its policy on hate crime finds that 68% of all hate crime reported is described as being homophobic. It would therefore make sense for the police authority to publish an objective on how it is to address hate crime.
For us, we do not have this style of data and therefore, apart from making a general commitment to you, our patients, it is hard for us to be able to set specific objectives. We do take into account all comments, suggestions and complaints when reviewing our service provision. We would encourage any patient who feels that we have not met our commitment, to contact the Practice Manager to discuss their concerns. We are fully committed to improving all aspects of the services we offer, but are unable to do this without your help and feedback. If you would like to take this a step further you are very welcome to join our Patient Participation Group.
Finally, we will work with the local health authority over the next 12 months or so to implement systems and processes to help us gather data to enable us to publish at least two Equality Act Objectives some time in 2013.