Shaping the future of healthcare from an equality, diversity and human rights perspective – Joan Saddler OBE

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The role of the EDC is to help shape the future of healthcare from an equality, diversity and human rights perspective, and to improve the quality of care for all. In the first of series of blogs, co-chair of the Equality and Diversity Council (EDC), Joan Saddler provides an update from the most recent quarterly meeting and offers an insight into the latest thinking behind the programme of work.

We work through NHS England, other partner organisations and stakeholders to facilitate influence and to empower. The strength of the council lies with its members and associated organisations and representations.

The work of EDC is driven forward by three core themes with five key goals for forming successes for the next two years:

  • Theme 1 – Inclusive Workplaces – Leadership, system and culture change to create inclusive workplaces. Goals: Creating inclusive workplaces and reducing bullying
  • Theme 2 – Workforce Equality – Continuous improvements in helping to ensure services and workplaces are free from discrimination. Goals: Eliminating discriminatory practice and improving organisational performance on equality.
  • Theme 3 – Inclusive Healthcare – Equity of access to services and improved outcomes for protected groups and people with lived experience of stark inequalities. Goal: Improving access and outcomes particularly for protected and disadvantaged groups

In our last meeting, we had an engaging and interactive session with a busy agenda and it was great to see so many people attending from our member organisations.

There are two key decisions that I think are worth highlighting from the meeting, both of which will have an impact on the wider NHS. These are:

  • The effect of Brexit on the workforce
  • Experiences of disabled colleagues

Paul Deemer from NHS Employers and Ram Jassi from University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, gave an excellent verbal presentation about the impact of Brexit on NHS workforce especially colleagues from the European Union and black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, working in the health and care sector.

From my point of view, it was extremely pleasing to see strong leadership models on approaching this matter and the council acknowledged feedback from members.

I also want to thank Southampton NHS Trust, for sharing a number of their approaches on addressing some of these challenges and the support given to staff.

As well as supporting the national campaign initiated by NHS Employers on Twitter under the hashtag #LoveOurEUStaff, it is increasingly important that leaders continue to demonstrate values based leadership supporting all staff groups and this was a message that was reinforced during the meeting.

The second key topic we discussed looked at, the experiences of disabled colleagues.

Building on the successful mandating of the Workforce Race Equality Standards (WRES) in April 2015, the EDC agreed to start work on additional workforce equality standards.

The findings of a 2015, Middlesex and Bedfordshire Universities and Disability Rights UK research into the experiences of disabled people working in the NHS has urged the EDC to carry out an engagement process with a view to introducing a Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES). I am very pleased to see NHS England commit to mandating the WDES in April 2018.

Finally, to keep up to date and informed about the work of the programme, remember you can also follow us on twitter @NHS_EDC

Joan Saddler is co-chair of the Equality and Diversity Council (EDC) – sharing the role with Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England.

Joan spent five years as the National Director of Patient and Public Affairs at the Department of Health, and is now responsible for national policy and practice in public and patient involvement at the NHS Confederation.

She previously served as the Chair of Waltham Forest PCT.

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