The Equality and Human Rights Commission has issued compliance notices to three NHS organisations warning that they need to take steps immediately to address race equality or face legal action for failing to comply with the Race Relations Act.
The Commission believes Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, and NHS Surrey are in breach of the Act’s Race Equality Duty. This Duty requires certain public authorities to eliminate racial discrimination, and promote equal opportunities and good race relations.
The Trusts have failed to put in place compliant Race Equality Schemes that set out how they will meet the Duty including:
- an assessment of functions and policies relevant to race equality
- the arrangements for monitoring policies for any adverse impact on the promotion of race equality
- assessing and consulting on the likely impact of proposed policies on the promotion of race equality
- training staff on how to adhere to the Duty
In addition, NHS Surrey and Kent and Medway NHS must take particular steps to improve their employment monitoring in accordance with their obligations under the Race Relations Act. Obligations required of listed public authorities include putting in place arrangements to monitor the ethnic background of staff and applicants for jobs, promotions and training, as well as monitoring the number of staff from each racial group who are involved in grievance procedures, subject to disciplinary procedures or cease employment with them.
Each Trust has also failed to carry out equality impact assessments on policies. The Commission has asked the Trusts to address these deficiencies.
The three NHS Trusts have received a compliance notice which is the first step in formal legal action. They have three months to put the scheme and monitoring plans in place. Failure to deliver may result in an application to the County Court.
The Commission is writing to a number of other Trusts about concerns it has with their failure to comply with race laws. The Commission is also in discussion with the Strategic Health Authority about how they can play a leading role in improving the standards of compliance by Trusts within their area.
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