NHS Equality and Diversity Council

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The NHS belongs to the people. It is there to improve our health and well-being, supporting us to keep mentally and physically well, to get better when we are ill and, when we cannot fully recover, to stay as well as we can to the end of our lives. It works at the limits of science – bringing the highest levels of human knowledge and skill to save lives and improve health. It touches our lives at times of basic human need, when care and compassion are what matter most.

About us

The Equality and Diversity Council (EDC) works to bring people and organisations together to realise a vision for a personal, fair and diverse health and care system, where everyone counts and the values of the NHS Constitution are brought to life.

The Council provides visible leadership on equality and health inequalities issues across the health and social care. Its purpose is to shape the future of health and social care from an equality, health inequalities and human rights perspective and to improve the access, experiences, health outcomes and quality of care for all who use and deliver health and care services.

The Council does this by establishing and sharing a clear evidence-base to understand and address key and emerging issues, by strengthening opportunities for Council members and its networks to participate in challenging and strategic conversations to influence change, and by raising awareness of the personal, fair and diverse vision among patients, communities and the workforce.

The Council is chaired by the Chief Executive of NHS England, with a diverse membership made up from across the NHS, social care, partner organisations, as well as from patient, carer and staff groups.

Our role

  • To improve understanding of how people’s differences, cultural expectations and social status can affect their experiences, health outcomes and quality of care.
  • To commission strategic pieces of work that support NHS England and partner organisations in fulfilling their responsibilities on promoting equality and tackling health inequalities.
  • To seek and raise ambition at every level of the health care system by campaigning to inspire strong leadership, removing barriers to change, celebrating success, bringing the NHS Constitution to life and championing reform.
  • To help to empower health care providers, commissioners, regulators, the NHS workforce, patients and the public to achieve an NHS where “everyone counts”, by supporting continuously improving performance.
  • To describe what success looks like, and advise on priorities for promoting equality and tackling health inequalities.
  • To use its influence to embed the promotion of equality and the tackling of health inequalities in the policies of the NHS and its day to day business; identifying relevant system levers to ensure a consistency of approach within policy, strategy, and the delivery of services.
  • To ensure that the wider health and care system continuously improves its performance on equality and tackling health inequalities.

Our vision: To tackle health inequalities and promote equality for all
Our mission: To bring to life the values of the NHS Constitution

EDC legacy and new way of working

A number of key projects have been initiated by the Council since its inception, including:

  • The Equality Delivery System; a toolkit to improve equality performance that has been widely implemented across the NHS and is being used by both providers and commissioners of services.
  • The Personal, Fair and Diverse Champions campaign; a vibrant staff network led by NHS Employers, that is committed to making change happen.
  • The development of a strong communications strategy to keep the profile of equality issues high within the healthcare service. This includes providing guidance and informing the NHS of its legal duties and obligations to ensure that equality is built into the fabric of the NHS.

Following the Health and Social Care Act 2012, the EDC has introduced new, more inclusive ways of working that will continue to build on these achievements, while supporting healthcare services to tackle health inequalities and advance equality and human rights in the new NHS landscape.

The first NHS Values Summit was held in Leeds on 28 November 2012, signalling the start of this new approach. Designed to build on our collective strengths at a time when the benefits of working collaboratively with patients, staff and communities are increasingly valued and recognised. The NHS Values Summits are held twice a year in different cities across the country.

Equality and Diversity Council Annual report 2016-17

Equality and Diversity Council supports mandating Workforce Race Equality Standard and EDS2

The NHS Equality and Diversity Council yesterday took two important decisions which are likely to make a significant difference to improving equality in the NHS.

The Council meeting considered a summary report of the recent consultations with NHS organisations and their representatives on whether to mandate both the proposed Workforce Race Equality Standard and the Equality Delivery System (EDS2)

The consultation took place in view of compelling evidence relating to the need to step up progress both on race equality and on equality in general, taking full account of growing evidence of the link between the treatment of staff and the quality and outcomes of patient care.

The meeting decided unanimously to support mandating both the Workforce Race Equality Standard and the Equality Delivery System (EDS2) from April 2015 and to support a programme of work to explain and support the proposals.

The final stage of consultation on the inclusion of the proposed Workforce Race Equality Standard and Equality Delivery System (EDS2) will take place in November, after which an extensive programme of communications and engagement to highlight and explain what are the full implications of this and what support will be provided by system leaders for organisations, will begin.

View background materials on the proposed Race Equality Standard and on the Equality Delivery System.

Ruth Passman, Head of Equality and Health Inequalities for NHS England said:

“Today the Equality and Diversity Council (EDC) took a bold step forward in promoting equality in the NHS and signalled its unanimous support for the introduction of the Workforce Race Equality Standard into the NHS Standard Contract in effect from April 2015. EDC partners are putting in place a programme of support to ensure that organisations are helped to meet the Standard through local action to step up efforts to tackle inequality in the treatment, progression and experience of BME staff in the NHS. The EDC also supported the inclusion of EDS2 in the 2015-16 NHS Standard Contract. “

“This is the first step in delivering a larger equalities programme which, over time, will address inequalities across all protected groups, in particular bringing forward a programme of action around disability, gender and sexual orientation.”

Statement of Declaration

EDC members

EDC meetings: Papers


Useful links

Contact us

Email: edc@nhs.net