Thursday, January 02, 2014

Ten Years On

Pressing Matters Vol 1 Book Cover

TEN YEARS AGO, at the start of 2004, the House of Lords was debating the Gender Recognition Bill.

The debate began in the Lords on 18th December 2003 and ended in a long and colourful report stage debate and third reading in the House of Commons on 8th June 2004.

Three weeks later, on 1st July 2004, the legislation received Royal Assent to become an Act of Parliament and, in April 2005, a new Gender Recognition Panel began receiving applications for the legal recognition of people who had undergone gender reassignment.

Recognised

Since that time approximately four thousand people have successfully applied under the terms of the Act to be recognised for who they are in their acquired gender.

After the inevitable rush of cases to begin with, the rate quickly settled down to around 300 cases per year and has remained fairly constant at that rate ever since.

Flawed

The legislation was not perfect by any means.

There were problems for some ex-patriate UK citizens who had been treated by clinicians abroad (not recognised by the panel) and there were disputes over the nature of the evidence which the gender recognition panel insisted on seeing.

The largest problem (and strongly contested all the way) was the requirement for married trans people to end their marriages as a condition for legal recognition (though, with careful planning, they could then immediately enter a civil partnership the same day).

The latter problem has been eliminated by the new legislation enabling same sex marriage; however the government has replaced the provision by an equally objectionable requirement that spouses should consent to their partner’s legal recognition.

Still fighting

Much water has flowed under the bridge since the Gender Recognition Act was passed ten years ago.

Trans people are still fighting for their rights — but it is nowadays a fight for social rights rather than legal ones.

NHS England has only belatedly moved to address consistent treatment for trans people changing gender. Trans people report dreadful levels of discrimination from health workers at every level.

In spite of significant advances in the past year, groups like Trans Media Watch still highlight regular discrimination against trans people in the national press.

Transformational

For all that ongoing struggle there is no doubt, in hindsight, that the Gender Recognition Act had a transformative effect on the consciousness of the UK’s trans community.

When the Act was passed, few people would identify themselves willingly as trans and stand up to talk about these issues. Nowadays there are hundreds — even thousands — of people openly talking about them.

There are trans journalists writing in broadsheet newspapers and magazines. A trans woman headed the Independent on Sunday’s annual Pink List in October 2013, accompanied by a long list of “out and proud” trans activists.

The understanding of the diversity of what ‘trans’ or ‘transgender’ means has been transformed.

Unique history

All this recent activity by a legion of new campaigners is great. But it has become plain that, with the passage of time, people are less and less aware of the history of the campaign that brought trans people to this place.

My new book “Pressing Matters”, published in time for the tenth anniversary of the Act, addresses this dearth of historical context.

Pressing Matters tells the story of how Britain’s tiny transsexual population lost their rights to privacy, legal protections and the recognition of family relationships for more than a generation in 1970. It explains how the long road to organising as a campaign took shape — and the setbacks along the way.

Pressing Matters is not a dull academic history though. The story of how Press for Change took shape and found its feet is woven with my own personal memoir of how it was on the inside — helping to create an effective political force engaging the energy of people who were mostly closeted, frightened, poor and geographically isolated.

Pressing Matters describes a time before email — before the web — before social media — and how the fledgling organisation gradually harnessed the power of computing and electronic communications as these became available. It is about careful strategic planning to use judicial processes effectively. But it is also about swift footed opportunism and community building too.

No Kindle required

Pressing Matters is available now as a Kindle eBook for £7.99 in the UK (€7.27 inc taxes in Europe and $9.70 plus taxes in the US).

The eBook format means that this extensive history can be made affordable world wide.

But you don’t require a Kindle device to read the book.

Nowadays there are free Kindle reading apps for Windows and Macintosh PCs, plus Apple and Android tablets and phones.

If you prefer not to install an app, there is also now a free ‘Cloud Reader’, which enables you to read your Kindle books in an ordinary browser. The Cloud reader is ideal if you use a computer that isn’t yours (e.g. at work) or use Linux.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Making Equality Work

MakingEqualityWork"A huge 'little' book" … "Brilliantly researched" … "A must read" … "Refreshing" say reviewers.

Our new book, is now on sale from today on the Kindle store in all territories.

£7.99 in the UK. Purchase here.

MAKING EQUALITY WORK combines background facts and theory about the history and nature of equality and diversity in Britain with the detailed description of how we set out successfully to raise the measurable levels of equality outcomes for the National Health Service in North West England.

The first half of the book is a theoretical primer. It explains how Britain changed over the last 50-60 years with the progressive emergence of all the diverse groups which we see today, and how society and the law responded to the demands from each group for social equality and protections. We explain why equality matters and why attempts to change public institutions to achieve it often fail. This is backed by an extensive literature review.

In the second half of the book we describe our own practical, evidence-led and strategy-driven approach within a public sector system of over 60 autonomous NHS trusts, and how that can be applied elsewhere. The book explains not only WHAT we did, but WHY we did it that way, and the benefits and pitfalls in hindsight.

The text is written in an accessible style for a wide range of readers and contains many references to contemporary published work from both academics and public sector sources.

"This is a huge 'little' book. A text book that reads more like an engaging novel. Full of facts, statistics and testimony. A brilliantly researched book with a strong narrative outlining the context for equality in the NHS and why, despite considerable progress, equality matters more today than ever before. What you get is written by people with a passion and an expertise, who have got their hands dirty, detailing a candid, system wide case study highlighting approaches and successes but realistic about progress and lessons learnt."

— Dean Royles, Chief Executive of NHS Employers and Acting Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation.

"...a must read for all those who work not just in healthcare but in other sectors too"

— Dr Kailash Chand OBE, Deputy Chair of the British Medical Association.

"It is refreshing to see a book which gives the important background and context of equality laws. This book is important in making equality laws understandable in Plain English."

— Linda Bellos OBE, Chair of the Institute of Equality and Diversity Practitioners.

"This book provides a solid local, regional and national context to equalities and human rights in the UK and how and why they should be embedded into the work of public authorities. It is a refreshing reflection on real life experiences of equality work in the last 7 years of the NHS. Any due diligence in building new health and social care systems should pay regard to the lessons of the past. This book offers many of them."

— Jackie Driver, Programme Head, Public Policy at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Chair of Breakthrough UK.

"MAKING EQUALITY WORK is essential reading for equality practitioners as well as senior management in the health sector and beyond. In a refreshingly jargon-free way, the book shows how it is possible to work strategically to achieve positive change, against formidable obstacles, in a very large organisation where promoting equality was not always a priority."

— Peter Baker, Men’s Health Consultant.

"...provides a model that has been shown to work on a large scale and presents it in a way that makes understanding it manageable. This is an essential textbook for those want to bring about real change in their organisations, and provides a roadmap to enable this."

— Sîan Payne, Director of Organisational Development at the Lesbian and Gay Foundation.

"...an important and welcome publication, not just for the NHS but in any organisation or venture: it is not only a 'how to' book but also a 'why to' book. The 'why' is often the biggest barrier, and it is well tackled here."

— Lorraine Gradwell MBE, former Chief Executive of Breakthrough UK.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Fishing for Birds

Fishing for Birds Cover

OUR NEW BOOK, Making Equality Work, will be coming out later this month.

It's all written and copies are currently with a select number of reviewers.

To find out more, click on the tab above.

In the meantime, to ensure everything is ready to release the eBook when we are ready, I have released a collection of poems that I've been meaning to formally publish for many years.

Baiting a line with a kite flying high

The title Fishing for Birds was inspired by a man who uses a wheelchair, whom I met once on Boston Common in the US. His hobby was to fly a kite from his chair (no easy feat) with the aid of a fishing rod.

Richard Troise referred to his hobby as 'Kite Fishing'.

The metaphor of using a kite to fish for birds, even when you can't walk,  struck me as an immensely strong one at the time. So strong that I decided to name my anthology after the poem of the same name, which I penned to describe that encounter.

A mix of emotions

I don't promise that every poem in this book has a diversity theme. Some are just plain absurd. Some capture painful or reflective moments in my life.

I tackle the big existential questions. Do Doughnuts have a soul? Is there a use for Bastards? Are Teddy Bears a single woman's best friend?

The poems have been performed by me occasionally over the years. But I always vowed I would release them as a book one day.

That day has come.

Kindle edition

Fishing for Birds is available in Kindle format on Amazon for £3.99. You can buy it here.

If you don't have an actual Kindle, that's not a problem as there are free Kindle apps for Windows and Apple PCs, and for iPad and Android tablet devices.

A full list of the free Kindle apps and how to download them is here.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Steve Field Moves To CQC

SteveField

STEVE FIELD, Deputy Medical Director of NHS England and the main force behind the commission's Equality and Health Inequalities team is moving to become the Chief Inspector of General Practice at the Care Quality Commission.

The move, announced today, is a logical one for Field, given his background as a former chair of the Royal College of GPs, who also developed GP training. He is also still a practicing GP.

However, the move also raises questions now over the leadership and direction of the Equality and Health Inequalities function at NHS England.

Personal stamp

Field had previously put a very strong (some would say idiosyncratic) personal stamp on the shape of the team and the type of appointments to it.

He surprised many by completely passing over established senior figures in the NHS equality area, pushing for an emphasis on health inequalities.

Job share

In theory the director-level championship role for E&HI was shared one-day-a-week with Paula Vasco-Knight, a practicing nurse whose main role is as Chief Executive of South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

On that one day each week Field returned to general practice in Birmingham so that, effectively, the championship of E&HI was a job share.

Now four fifths of that 1 FTE job share has departed.

Operational Head

Nominally the lead for the E&HI function is Ruth Passman, who was appointed in June.

Ruth Passman is certainly not in the same league as Professor Field. Having known her, I think she would admit that.

In fact this blog was probably the only place you would have heard of her appointment.

So this move creates a space and lots of questions.

We'll be interested to see what happens.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fourth Column Revolutionary

FourthColumn

GERMANY is to introduce the option for parents of Intersex babies to record the child's gender as a blank in the nation's birth registry.

This is an entirely sensible and pragmatic approach to dealing with an issue where, very belatedly, doctors and officials are realising that their need for binary certainty ("it must be one or the other") is not in the interests of the child.

Intersex campaigners have been presenting their own lived evidence for decades, arguing how the non-consensual assignment of their bodies after birth had consequences which the parents and doctors didn't have to live with.

Although this is arguably a first for birth registrations, the idea of not specifying gender is not unique to Germany.

Norrie May-Welby, a South Australian citizen, has fought an on-off-on campaign in that country to have an 'X' on their passport, enabling them to travel abroad.

The designator 'X' is already accepted as an alternative to 'M' or 'F' by the International Convention which governs the standards for Passports, meaning that any country could utilise it if desired.

And many countries nowadays have processes for citizens to apply to correct the gender given in their birth registration, to accurately reflect the social gender role acquired by an adult … although only from Boy to Girl or Girl to Boy..

Restricted

The new German provision is not open for parents to use voluntarily for their children.

It is only to be applied where doctors say that the newborn's physical sex is ambiguous.

Opponents of such restriction will argue that it reinforces a longstanding medicalisation of sex and gender.

The process can't just be used to limit the influences of official gender in their child's life and options.

Problems

The Independent, presenting the story, chooses to emphasise the questions raised by a blank space, positing how this might be a problem in later years with other official documents, when getting married, or if the grown up child was to be sent to prison for committing a crime.

Arguments like that miss the point that people of mixed, indeterminate or self-altered gender encounter these issues anyway. Prisons need to have intelligent guidelines for dealing with such cases; filling in the blank on their birth certificate arguably exacerbates the issue rather than requiring consideration of what is most appropriate and humane in each case.

Discussions like that remind me of how a topic like this is considered in terms of how it rocks the status quo, rather than whether the status quo is actually a good thing or not.

Fifteen years ago I wrote an essay about what might happen if we did away with the gender registration altogether. For everyone.

Today seems like a good time to reprise that.

Please forgive the wandering style at the beginning. We writers evolve. Oh, and I left the Conservatives too. All change!

4CR Header

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but some revolutionary ideas only need to be aired once and they take off like a balloon that’s not been fastened well-enough to a toddler’s pushchair.

Other ideas, no less dramatic when viewed in hindsight, seem to need to E-volve for a while, before the world starts RE-volving in their wake.

Take the fax machine … Little more than a dozen years ago, facsimile machines were something of a rarity, even in business.

Do you remember how we all practiced that neat trick of folding our correspondence in three, inserting it into an envelope (self-seal for the business-stylish, of course) and sticking a stamp on the front … to await the vagaries of the post office?

A message bound for overseas inevitably meant that someone would need to pay a visit to the post office, to grapple with how many pennies it cost to send sixty grams of glorified tracing paper to Timbuktu by air. And DON’T talk to me about Telex machines !

Yet try getting a timely letter to "The Times" these days without a fax. Try getting a request played on the radio…

Yes, it’s fairly obvious why the fax machine struck such an obvious and immediate chord in people’s minds that, today, parents give them to far-away daughters for Christmas, as a way of hinting that a letter or two wouldn’t go amiss now and then.

A revolutionary idea, if its’ benefits have a universally obvious appeal, does not need to sit on the shelf for long. … Or does it ?

In the late 1940s, a distinguished government scientist in the UK looked at the electronic calculating machines being developed at that time on both sides of the Atlantic and concluded that Britain’s national requirements for the new "computers" would most probably be met by having two or perhaps three of the things. Over in the United States, a committee at the International Business Machines Corparation, arrived at a very similar conclusion for the office machinery giant. Computers were perhaps useful, but a bit esoteric.

Going back further still, there is the little-remembered case of the US Senator who, after a demonstration of Mr Bell’s new Voice Telephone, pronounced confidently that he could see a day when every town hall in the United States would have one of those useful pieces of apparatus.

There is a tendency for people to very often assess a new idea in familiar terms. They ask themselves, "would the telephone be more convenient for telegraph operators than morse code", rather than "do we need telegraph operators any more ?".

I’ve left out the Internet in this set of examples, of course. Yet, on a scale calibrated by the speed with which an idea can achieve mass adoption, the Internet … and more particularly its’ two stars "e-mail" and the "World Wide Web" … already makes the meteoric successes of the fax machine, mobile phone and Microwave Oven look decidedly less dramatic than they were for their time.

The long term revolution of the Internet will not stem from what it does quicker or more conveniently, mind you, but from what it previously impossible and undreamt-of things it will make into commonplace reality tomorrow.

The lesson however, is that, for technology, it’s not just enough for something to be useful, or affordable … but that the timing has to be right too. A world that already understands the advantage of cheap rapid communication is a world that’s ready to accept the simple proposition that electronic mail is just the same, but even cheaper and faster.

But does a similar principle hold true sociologically ?

It seems amazing to me now that when I was taking my Eleven-Plus examinations as a child in mid-sixties Britain, single young mothers were still being despatched off to nursing homes in shame to have "illegitimate" children delivered and then taken away for immediate adoption … in scenes which would now provoke an immediate outcry.

When I graduated in mid-seventies Britain, it was still not entirely the "done thing" for couples to "live in sin", as it was then called … and it took until 1975 before we had a "Sex Discrimination Act".

As recently as 1967, adult male homosexuality was a criminal offence and it took until the mid-NINEties before a first attempt to harmonise the homosexual and heterosexual ages of consent ended in what is still a half-way house … a fudge.

In some quarters, of course, unmarried mothers still have pariah status over thirty years on. Women continue to earn less than men. And homosexual people are still only really "tolerated" or "accepted", in the right sort of places .. largely thanks to a perception that "straight" society gets something out of them. Take away the perception that so-and-so’s "OK" because he or she is a good singer, tennis player, or whatever … and the reason for many quarters of society to suppress their continuing distrust of people with different sexual lifestyles would still be there, 31 years on.

So, there is a parallel … based on perceived benefit … but it’s a muted one, compared with the simple "see it - want it" psychology that applies to society with technology-driven revolution.

Of course, by now you’re probably wondering where on earth I’m headed in this line of argument, but patience children, please …

The STARTING point that I wanted to get to was that there doesn’t appear to be any sociological equivalent of, say, the Microwave Oven … a new way of thinking about or doing something which is so instantly attractive that people lust after the means to embrace its’ benefits. That is why social change is, perhaps, so often slow and E-volutionary, rather than RE-volutionary … except, of course, where it’s driven by changes in lifestyle brought about by rapid adoption of a new technology.

The other point I wanted to underline however was that, even then, the acceptance of a change depends upon the extent to which people have already had the ground laid by what’s gone before. This is why, of course, society is ready and able to digest ideas about trans-people that it wasn’t ready to digest a mere decade ago.

So, when you meet with a "revolutionary" social idea, don’t be disappointed if you find that you have to keep repeating it over and over … for years if necessary … before anyone actually stops, puts their drink down and says, "Run that past me again dear …"

And the "idea" that this is all leading up to certainly isn’t new … or mine…

I first heard it mentioned, almost as a throwaway line, by Dr Michael Will of the Faculty of Law at the University of Geneva. He was speaking at the Amsterdam Colloquy : Transsexualism, Medicine and Law in April 1993 … and when he casually tossed the line into his presentation, he admitted that it wasn’t his either … It had already been put forward by Judge F.A. van der REIJT, the Chairman of the Dutch Gender Foundation at the very start of the Colloquy.

It’s a really simple question, too …

"Why not eliminate sex altogether … the UK birth certificate’s FOURTH COLUMN … from public records for the whole of Europe ?"

Now … watch your reaction for a moment …

You smile … you nod … you acknowledge the simple elegance of the idea .. then you shrug … "Impossible" says the little voice from the oldest recesses of your brain’s social reasoning department … and then you smile indulgently at Christine’s naïviety and change the subject … let’s talk about the ACHIEVEable !

See what I mean about revolutionary ideas ? Often so simple … yet outside of our reach.

Well … the idea IS barely five years old … and where’s that elusive MASS benefit ? Oh … well, I’m coming to that !

What set me off again, however, was something I read from the UKPFC-forum a few weeks ago … so often a place where ideas blow in on the breeze like a dandelion seed, and either settle to germinate and flower … or blow out the door again, unnoticed.

It was one of those things that remind me that we are still painfully apologetic, as a community, about asking for what’s rightfully ours ..

Just before Christmas the forum’s debate touched for a day or two on what to do about that fourth column on the UK birth certificate. Somebody wanted to alter the "label" from "Sex" to "Gender" … believing that a (non-existent) means of correction could then be invoked to change it less contentiously .. missing the point that the essence of the case is about acknowledging the CORRECT sex by a better understanding of what defines it, rather than trying to pull a legal "fast one". That line of reason never got time to surface though … as the preoccupation of those taking part in the discussion boiled down to an acceptance, from the word go, that people at large would not countenance changing something like that for such a small minority of people to benefit.

It reminds me of one of those silent Charlie Chaplin films … you know .. where Chaplin battles for ages to open a door by pushing and pulling .. totally oblivious to the fact that it’s a sliding door.

What’s in it for the masses ?

That … in a manner of speaking … is what the government argued ten years ago too, in the Mark Rees case at the European Court of Human Rights, in saying that a change to birth registration procedures would "impose" new responsibilities and obligations on society…

What’s the benefit to 99.99% of the population in enabling the meaning and purpose of the UK birth certificate to be altered from a purely historic record of observation at the time of birth ?

(That’s a rhetorical question, incidentally … I don’t need telling <grin>)

Well, of course, put THAT way it all seems quite reasonable to the 99.99% whom we assume aren’t going to derive any benefit … But then we ought to perhaps break that down and REALLY focus on 51% of that number ..

Let’s go back, in fact, to where your eyes glazed over at the thought of deleting the fourth column altogether.

WHY is it such a REVOLUTIONARY idea ?

You KNOW why, tacitly, of course.

The fourth column of the British birth certificate is the root of the most enduring and entrenched systems of discrimination in modern society. On the basis of that fourth column it is decided whether or not you inherit your deceased parents’ estate in preference to your younger brother. On the basis of that fourth column you will either work until you are sixty or sixty five (at least, if you’re over 40 now). It will decide who you can marry, what laws apply in favour and against you.

It assumes the state’s prerogative to define you … and from that perspective it can be viewed as fundamentally repressive.

Put another way, ask how any of these things are possible WITHOUT that column on the birth certificate to act as the root of all gender-connected reasoning on your behalf.

So, annihilating that fourth column in society really IS a revolutionary idea … which affects not a mere five thousand transpeople, but fifty five million citizens … and especially those twenty six million for whom the entry "Girl" denotes a lifetime’s expectation of taking second place. Moreover, it asserts the right of the state to define every one of us.

So, instead of meekly and apologetically asking if society is prepared to correct the column that discriminates against US, maybe it wouldn’t hurt, now and then, to point out the fact that the road we’re on leads logically to a conclusion that benefits the MAJORITY of society.

In principle, of course, it’s something that governments of all shades have been working towards in a modest fashion for years anyway …

As I said, if you’re under forty years of age, then you ARE going to have the same retirement age irrespective of what it says on your birth certificate. Already, you have the right to be treated equally by the inland revenue, regardless of sex. At work, you can’t be discriminated against (legally) on the basis of your sex. Already, people like Jeffrey Archer are talking of altering the law of succession too … though why he should work on the assumption that it will take fifty years to achieve baffles me.

All around us, changes are already in progress that make the requirement for a legal reference point for sex into an anachronism. But why empty the bath one cup at a time when you can just pull the plug out ? If it’s anachronistic to treat a woman differently in the eyes of the Inland Revenue, why is it appropriate to retain the means to distinguish her legally from a man at some other time ?

Why enact ten acts of Parliament to eliminate society’s gender distinctions when one will do ?

When you find the REAL answers to those questions, of course, then you’re on the road to understanding why the British establishment has been so unwilling to even COUNTENANCE taking the first step … which it thinks it would be taking in any move that might weaken the general belief that the fourth column is planted in stone foundations. We are that first step.

Permit the idea that sex-based social positioning is not as "permanent" as it’s always been taken to be, and you find that before long people will begin to see the social barriers as capable of change too.

Janice Raymond characterised trans-people as some sort of fifth column. She missed the point entirely though … for in truth we are the FOURTH COLUMN REVOLUTIONARIES.

Copyright © 1998,2013. All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

A New Blog: Fanfare For The Uncommon Gran

Fanfare For The Uncommon Gran

Just Plain Sense is the main brand that I use for content mainly related to Equality, Inclusion and Human Rights.

Aside from the written content on this blog there is the Just Plain Sense Podcast, founded at around the same time in 2008, and the Just Plain Sense You Tube channel.

That's almost 200 blog articles and 90 Podcasts in the last five years.

Over that time, however, I have also added other blogs and Podcasts to express ideas that wouldn't really fit the 'Just Plain Sense' brand.

Fishing for Birds is a Podcast set up several years ago just to host readings of my poetry collection of the same name. One day I may publish the text of the poems as an eBook but, for now, they are performed online for your enjoyment.

Then there is this site's alter ego 'Just Plain Daft', which is a bit like The Onion or The Daily Mash, taking a satirical view on contemporary events or thinking. The format of articles under this masthead have evolved a bit since I began. Hopefully, in the process, they've become sharper. However, they are an acquired taste … not for everyone.

Recently I began to realise that that I had other ideas to express which wouldn't fit into any of these. They are the sort of thoughts which have impressed themselves on me as I contemplate the start of my seventh decade next year and wonder when to call myself 'retired'.

Fanfare For The Uncommon Gran is about approaching the enormous watershed of retirement when your life has been anything but ordinary. Like all new blogs I can't entirely predict which way this one will evolve. I write when I catch myself thinking about some aspect of life and have something to say. And that something may well evolve in the next few years as my own life and outlook changes.

I do hope you'll come along for the ride though.

And this isn't the end for Just Plain Sense. Just another fork in the road.

Monday, July 29, 2013

NHS England Launch New Equality and Health Inequalities Newsletter

Everyone

Observant readers will have noticed that I've said little or nothing about NHS England's Equality and Health Inequalities team since April, when the new structures came into being.

Yes, I was critical of the manner in which the team was recruited during the previous year, and how I still think continuity was compromised in that process.

Yes, I've pointed to the inequalities which were being reinforced in the establishment of NHS England, even as the leaders mouthed the right words.

I was perplexed, too, by the virtual radio silence in the last four months, during which time this blog was probably the only place where you could learn anything about the structure of the national Equality and Health Inequalities Team and appointments to it.

On the whole though, I had already decided to grant the new Equality and Health Inequalities team some space in which to get a grip
on their brief.

Breathing space

Any new team requires a bit of space and time to come together, to learn about each other, to establish their processes and objectives, and to start producing outputs (let alone outcomes).

And NHS England has already begun to deliver in some areas, most notably the kind of stakeholder engagement driven by their Patient Voice team.

It was about now that I was beginning to contemplate asking broader questions though.

So I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see a few answers.

Newsletter

The first edition of "Everyone", the Equality and Health Inequalities team's newsletter, has been published today.

In fact, "newsletter" might not be the right term, as the style is more that of a magazine.

Issue one explains the interim equality objectives, which I reported on back in April. There is confirmation that the Equality Delivery System (EDS) is undergoing a refresh and still has an important part in transformation plans. And there are pictures and profiles of the sixteen-strong Equality and Health Inequalities team … many being entirely new names in the sector.

Timely

Such a publication is very timely. Any longer and the silence from the new team would have prompted questions.

A four month interregnum on national Equality governance is something that has to be accepted following such a massive reorganisation of the NHS system in England.

And maybe it's OK to stress patience whilst a group of relative strangers continue to build from scratch.

For now it's OK to learn about personalities and to hear about plans and processes.

So long as nobody forgets that, in the end, this new team will ultimately be measured on the genuine outcomes.

What really changed. For who. And how permanently.

NHS England Equality Team (April 2013)

The team marks its inaugural meeting in April with a cake