Equality Act and Public Sector Equality Duty and involvement with protected groups
Hampshire Together: Modernising our Hospitals and Health Services is subject to a rigorous NHS assurance process that aims to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and ensure that, wherever possible, services are provided in ways which might reduce health inequalities.
As part of this assurance process, integrated impact assessments (IIAs) are conducted to identify groups that could be vulnerable to proposals and the aspects of the services which could reduce or deepen health inequalities.
The assurance process requires appropriate engagement with identified groups who work with people who may face barriers to taking part in major service changes. It provides a meaningful opportunity for people who may be more impacted by any potential change to consider and feedback on the various issues and proposed changes.
We are working with local third sector voluntary and community groups or organisations to support involvement with different vulnerable groups in relation to specific or different issues.
The Equality Act
The NHS has a duty to meet its public sector equality duty, as defined by S.149 of the Equality Act 2010, which applies to all organisations that provide a service to the public or a section of the public (service providers). It also applies to anyone who sells goods or provides facilities. It applies to all our services, whether or not a charge is made for them.
The Act protects people from discrimination on the basis of a ‘protected characteristic’. The relevant characteristics for services and public functions are:
- gender reassignment
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
- marriage and civil partnership (named purposely in the equality act 2010.
Involvement with protected groups
The programme is working with lots of different community groups to ensure people are involved in giving their views. In particular, encouraging small organisations representing those with protected or specific interests to get involved with organising focus groups.
Reducing health inequalities
The NHS constitution requires NHS bodies to ensure that health inequalities are properly and seriously taken into account. This is reflected in NHS legislation, which gives NHS commissioners duties to consider the need to reduce health inequalities.
This means reducing inequalities between patients in terms of both access to health services and the outcomes achieved and includes balancing that need against other factors.
Hampshire Together will make sure these duties are properly addressed in its decision making.