Equality and human rights duties
The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) came into force in April 2011. The duty covers age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. The general equality duty is set out in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.
All public authorities in England, Scotland and Wales and bodies exercising public functions must comply with obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010. Complying with obligations under equality and human rights law is not only a matter of legal compliance, it improves patient safety and protects the rights of patients and their families and carers.
HSIB is hosted by NHS England and NHS Improvement. The provisions of the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 require NHS England and NHS Improvement (including the HSIB), as a public body, to:
- Annually publish information to demonstrate compliance with the PSED. This information must include, in particular, information relating to persons who share a relevant protected characteristic who are its employees (provided the organisation has 150 or more employees) and other persons affected by its policies and procedures.
- Prepare and publish one or more objectives it thinks it should achieve to meet the PSED.
The Equality Act 2010 requires us to review our equality objectives every 4 years.
In exercising our functions, the HSIB is required to have due regard to the need to address three equality aims:
- eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010.
- advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
- foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
The protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010 are:
- gender reassignment
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation.
How we uphold equality
One of our strategic goals is to support and uphold equality across all our work areas, ensuring equitable and fair treatment, access and opportunity.
The corporate objectives which underpin this strategic goal are:
- Develop and publish an HSIB equality strategy and action plan
- Invest in an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer
- Review recruitment processes to ensure they support equality of opportunity for all
- Review our information and communication materials to ensure they are accessible and that they meet plain English standards.
You can read more about our strategic goals in the HSIB Annual Review 2019/20.
You can also read our latest Equality in Our Workforce Report 2020-2021
What we’re doing
We’re working through a range of actions to ensure equality is considered in how we decide what to investigate and in our decision-making and policy-making.
Experts by Lived Experience
We have put in place arrangements to include ‘experts by lived experience’ in our investigation teams. They are individuals who currently use, or have used, regulated health and social care services during the past 5 years. They can also be the family or carers of relatives who use, or have used, regulated health and social care services. Having first-hand experience of using services offers a unique perspective.
The contribution of experts by lived experience:
- increases the scope of evidence gathering
- helps to form a clearer picture of a service or related topic
- helps professionals to better understand how the needs of people using services can be met
- assists with developing and improving services and reduces barriers to open communication.
Data drives improvement and provides a basis for decision-making. We access published evidence on equality issues relevant to patient safety to inform our decision-making on which investigations to undertake.
We collect data related to the nine protected characteristics in investigations to understand any health inequalities which may emerge.
We review data from maternity investigations to consider any evidence of contributory factors to poorer outcomes for Black and minority ethnic families. Communication issues are reviewed for any thematic learning in the annual report on maternity investigations.
Translation and interpretation service
We support investigations with a dedicated translation and interpretation service, as well as access to information in other formats such as Easy Read and Braille. This facilitates full involvement in investigations and ensures families involved in our investigations can access final investigation reports in an appropriate format.
Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in the workforce is a priority. Our staff are exploring how to attract more diversity to the workforce through our recruitment and retention process and we’re collecting data to understand any improvements.