Equality, cuts and lip service

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2013 Health Care Service Group Conference
14 December 2012

Conference believes that the Equality Delivery System is a national programme designed by the NHS Equality and Diversity Council (Now the NHS Personal, Fair and Diverse Council) to ensure NHS compliance with the Equality Act 2010 and to help reduce inequalities in health and the workplace.

The Equality Delivery System aims to move responsibility for holding NHS trusts to account on equality from dissolved PCTs to the community and staff. NHS trust contracts vary across the UK in terms of including the Equality Delivery System, effectively creating a postcode lottery for equality.

Discrimination for many members is still a reality in the NHS and branches are constantly fighting cases challenging discrimination in the workplace. All too often issues such as heteronormative practice, erasure of bisexual and transgender issues, glossing over of racism, ignoring sexist attitudes and disablist management is common place.

Conference further believes staff and UNISON branches often lack information and understanding on the Equality Delivery System and their role. NHS trusts are not being held to account on how well they implement the Equality Delivery System and their results properly scrutinised. Managers locally have failed to engage and involve branches in holding NHS Trusts to account on equality under the new Equality Delivery System.

Without urgent attention, many NHS trusts will continue to play lip service to equality in the workplace, allowing the continuation of transphobia, biphobia, homophobia, racism, disablism, sexism and other forms of discrimination.

Due to the mess caused by the government’s mass NHS restructure, equality is been dropped off the agenda with equality managers often first to be made redundant. Without this specialist knowledge, no matter how good the toolkit, the Equality Delivery system is destined to fail.

With falling budgets, many NHS trusts are reducing the bands of equality specialist roles, reducing the influence of advocates for equality within their organisation.

Conference resolves to:

1)write to government Equalities and Health Ministers highlighting the damaging effect the NHS restructure is having on equality in the NHS and asking for a meeting with health SGE to discuss concerns highlighted in this motion;

2)promote the UNISON fact sheet on the Equality Delivery System and encourage its inclusion within regional training events;

3)publicly endorse and lobby for the implementation of the NHS Equality Competency Framework which calls for a Band 7 Equality Specialist in every NHS trust;

4)advise all branches on the redundancy threat NHS equality specialists face in the midst of the NHS restructure and current cuts being forced on NHS trusts;

5)to encourage branches to recruit NHS equality specialists to become UNISON members.