Equality

Equality Legislation

Now that you are a registered health practitioner, it is important that you understand how equality and diversity law applies to your work. This unit will help you build knowledge and confidence in this area of practice.

Introduction

The public sector equality duty in the Equality Act (2010) came into force in April 2011 - this is often referred to as the general duty, there are also specific duties. Scottish public authorities must actively consider and take relevant and appropriate action to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. 

This act makes it illegal to discriminate against people with a ‘protected characteristic. These characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity.

Patient Rights Scotland Act (2011). A range of activities focussed on how the Patient Rights Act impacts on you and your role are found in the Flying Start Policy section.

In addition to legislation, healthcare policy is also key to ensuring equality for NHSScotland service users and staff. The NHS Scotland Healthcare Quality Strategy (2010) has three quality targets stating that all patients/clients have the right to receive healthcare that is safe, effective and person-centred. In Everyone Matters: 2020 Workforce Vision, the Scottish Government are taking forward ‘the implementation of the Quality Strategy, and the required actions to improve efficiency and achieve financial sustainability.

Web Resources - Equality and Diversity

You have already learned that the Equality Act (2010) is based on a series of ‘protected characteristics’, which are age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy/maternity, marriage or civil partnership, race (including ethnicity and national origin), religion or belief, sex (gender) and sexual orientation.

There is a wide range of information available about the Equality Act (2010). Select one of the links below and find out more about an aspect of the act that has particular resonance for you or your role.

The Government Equalities Office produced an excellent series of user-friendly guides which explain what changed as a result of the Act.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) produces a wealth of guidance and information resources on equality and diversity and the Equality Act including the Starter Kit about the Act.

The EHRC’s Easy Read guide to the public sector equality duty is a very good practical overview, as well as an example of using Easy Read to make communication more accessible.

The EHRC website contains a series of case studies which give examples of unlawful discrimination and success stories.

Select one case from the information about protected characteristics. For each of the case studies consider:

  • if a you have encountered a similar situation or you can see where there is potential for a similar situation to arise
  • how the culture of the unit or setting influences people 's reactions in similar situations(you may want to look at what you have learned about Everyone Matters: 2020 Workforce Vision the activities in the Cultural competence section of this unit when thinking about this )
  • how the culture supports equality in similar situations and where there could be improvements
  • how you feel about how this strand of equality is dealt with in your work setting

Discrimination case studies

The Equality Act (2010) defines 6 types of discrimination. These are direct discrimination associative discrimination, perceptive discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment, victimisation and discrimination arising from disability.

Find out more about how these are defined by reading some of the case studies from the Social Care Institute for Excellence. They have published a series of mini-case studies that illustrate a range of health and social care situations which illustrate cases of discrimination.

Select 1 or 2 cases from the information and consider the following questions in relation to your work setting:

  • where you have encountered a similar situation or you can see where there is potential for a similar situation to arise
  • how the culture or setting influences people 's reactions in similar situations
  • how the culture supports equality in similar situations and where there could be improvements
  • how you feel about how this strand of equality is dealt with in your work setting and here any changes could be made

Record your comments and reflections for your portfolio and discuss them with your mentor.

Your Health Board and equality outcomes

In this activity, you will look at equality and diversity from a Health Board level. 
You may want to link this with the ‘Understanding local equality and diversity' activity in the Diversity sub-unit which looks at E&D from the level of the service you work in.

All public sector organisations in Scotland, including Health Boards, have equality outcomes that they are working to achieve by 2017. They also have to report to publically on the actions they have taken to mainstream equality and diversity in their work.

This information will be available on both the intranet and internet (for the internet, try searching using the terms ‘Health Board ‘, ‘Equality’, ‘Diversity’ or ‘Equality Outcomes’.

Carry out the following activities:

  • find out what the equality and diversity strategy is for your work setting
  • identify the impact that the relevant action plans, equivalent equality strategy/plan, policies or vision statements have on patients/clients and on your work setting

Discuss how you and the team contribute or can contribute to delivering on the equality outcomes with your mentor.