Friday, March 13, 2009

Department of Health Revamps and Strengthens Equality and Human Rights Organisation

The following is quoted direct, word for word, from a release received today from the Department of Health's communications team

Championing equality and driving change across the NHS and Social Care

In a move to strengthen accountability and mainstream equality and human rights in the Department of Health, four directors-general are taking direct responsibility to drive these issues within the Department and across the NHS and Social Care. Their vision is to ensure that the equalities agenda is at the heart of everything the Department does, thus delivering on the NHS Constitution principle to provide "a comprehensive service, available to all". A two-year transformation programme has been set in train to ensure that the drive to reduce discrimination and inequality is embraced by the whole Department.

A new National Equality and Diversity Committee will be established to drive action across the NHS. Its purpose will be to improve the equality performance of the NHS, with regard to both patients and staff. It will champion and provide assurance for delivery of a health service where 'Everyone Matters'. David Behan, Director-General, Social Care, will have the same responsibility within Social Care.

The Department of Health's National Director for Equality and Human Rights Surinder Sharma will advise the Committee, as well as the Department's new Equality and Human Rights Assurance Group (chaired by DH Non-Executive Director Julie Baddeley). He will also engage with health and social care stakeholders. He will report to DH Chief Operating Officer Richard Douglas who has taken on responsibility for delivery across the Department on behalf of the DH Management Board.

From April 1st, the NHS Change Programmes team within the Department's Equality and Human Rights Group (EHRG) will transfer to the NHS Workforce Directorate, under the leadership of Director-General Clare Chapman. They will continue to have an important role in relation to both service issues and workforce matters. Staff currently working on policy and legislation within the EHRG will transfer to the Policy and Strategy Directorate as Director-General Una O'Brien takes on responsibility for embedding equality and human rights in the Department's policy and delivery strategies.

The teams in both Directorates will be continuing with their current work whilst consideration is given over the next few months as to how the knowledge and expertise built up within the EHRG can be best used to embed equality and human rights in all the work the Department undertakes.

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