NHS England equality objectives for 2024/25 and 2025/26

These equality objectives and equality targets for NHS England for 2024/25 and 2025/26 address our role as an NHS system leader, commissioner and our own role as an employer.

Read our review of progress in 2023/24: delivering the equality objectives and meeting the wider equality requirements

NHS England’s equality objectives and updated targets for 2024/25 and 2025/26

These equality targets have been updated in light of the information in this report. No changes have been proposed to the 8 overall equality objectives. Some targets have been retired but most have been rolled over for 2024/25 and 2025/26.

Equality objective 1 [COVID-19 and recovery]

To ensure that the equality and health inequality impacts of COVID-19 and key lessons learnt are fully considered and that clear strategies are developed and implemented for the NHS workforce and patients of all ages as the NHS continues to move beyond the recovery phase. To ensure that patient and workforce focused strategies reflect this and make an effective contribution to advancing equality for people of all ages by reference to protected characteristics and to reducing associated health inequalities.

Target 1: To ensure that operational, planning and associated guidance to systems considers how to address and reduce the adverse equality impacts of COVID-19 and provides strategic guidance to the NHS.

Target 2: To work to ensure that key NHS England patient strategies consider the lessons learned from COVID-19 and how to address and reduce the adverse equality impacts of COVID-19.

Target 3: To develop and implement strategies in elective recovery, including for people of all ages, in order to reduce the adverse equality impacts of COVID-19 as the NHS moves further into the recovery phase.

Equality objective 2 [capability]

To improve the capability of NHS England to understand and address the PSED’s legal obligations and the interface with the separate health inequalities duties.

Target 1: To improve the capability of NHS England’s teams to understand and address the PSED’s legal obligations.

Equality objective 3 [information]

To improve the mapping, quality and extent of equality information to better facilitate compliance with the PSED in relation to patients and NHS service-users of all ages, NHS service delivery, and the NHS workforce.

Target 1: To work with the DHSC, ONS, NHS arm’s length bodies, and other government bodies to identify how best to carry forward and oversee the work of the UISPC Project.

Equality objective 4 [internal workforce]

To improve, by reference to protected characteristics, the recruitment, retention, progression, development, and experience of the people employed by NHS England to enable the organisation to become an inclusive employer of choice.

Target 1: To maintain the 19% aspirational target of ethnic minorities representation at all levels of our organisation.

Target 2: To continue increasing declaration rates of under-represented groups in our workforce including disabled colleagues.

Target 3: To undertake a change programme on our recruitment and promotion, further enabling the organisation to become an employer of choice and a workforce that reflects the communities we serve.

Target 4: To reset our EDI strategy, for the new NHS England, creating opportunities to refresh our targets to ensure they are reflective of our EDI values, local labour markets and accommodating the rapid growth of a merged workforce.

Target 5: To seek to improve our diversity representation through organisational change.

Equality objective 5 [patient access and communication]

To improve access and reduce communication barriers experienced by individuals and groups of people of all ages, by reference to protected characteristics, who need NHS services.

Target 1: To publish the updated Accessible Information Standard (AIS).

Target 2: To publish the updated AIS self-assessment framework, e-learning resources and supporting documentation.

Target 3: Through the evaluation of the Equity and equality guidance and implementation of Local Maternity and Neonatal Systems (LMNS) equity and equality action plans, in furtherance of pledge 4, NHS England will measure progress in relation to reducing inequalities in perinatal mortality rates for babies from Black, Asian and mixed ethnic groups and identify how good practice can best be shared and spread.

Equality objective 6 [system workforce]

To improve, by reference to protected characteristics, the recruitment, retention, progression, development and experience of staff in the NHS workforce.

Target 1: To implement the high impact actions (and their associated success metrics) included in the national NHS Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) improvement plan seeking by 2024/25 to develop improvement trajectories for this programme.

Target 2: To implement a framework for monitoring the number of volunteers across the NHS by reference to protected characteristics and any other relevant characteristics.

Equality objective 7 [integrated care boards]

To work with Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) to support their compliance with the Equality Act 2010’s Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and the associated Specific Equality Duties (SEDs).

Target 1: To work in partnership with Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to ensure clear guidance is produced for ICBs on the development of equality information and equality objectives.

Target 2: To identify the best ways to support ICBs to meet PSED/SED requirements.

Equality objective 8 [system landscape]

To ensure that the equality objectives for NHS England address the relevant statutory functions, duties, powers and responsibilities of NHS England created by the Health and Care Act 2022.

Target 1: To harmonise the arrangements for PSED and SED compliance across the new NHS England.

Target 2: To review and assess how best to incorporate the Equality Objectives, developed for NHS Digital and Health Education England, into the work to develop revised Equality Objectives for the new NHS England.