Headlines: August 1st, 2005

National Health Service and social care organisations are being issued with new guidance to improve ethnic monitoring within their services and workforces. It has been drawn up by the Department of Health, the Health and Social Care Information Centre and NHS Employers to improve health services for patients and working practices for staff.It highlights the importance of consistent and standard methods of collecting ethnic group and other related data from patients, service users and staff. It also explains the key principle of self-classification.

The guidance incorporates 17 good practice examples taken from various NHS bodies and local councils to help disseminate good work on ethnic monitoring across health and social care and to encourage shared learning. The new document also sets out the business case for ethnic monitoring and demonstrates the contribution it can make to delivering services based on individual needs and ethnic backgrounds of patients and users.

The Department of Health says the guide’s emphasis on the collection and use of robust ethnic data will assist Health Trusts and councils in meeting targets and local care standards. Staff will also benefit as monitoring will help ensure fairness in recruitment and selection as well as in learning and development opportunities. Unrepresented groups will be identified so recruitment drives can be targeted and organisations can become more attractive to all communities.

Surinder Sharma, from the Equality and Human Rights Group at the Department of Health, said those trusts and local authorities that updated their Race Equality Schemes on a routine basis and used data to understand and tackle race inequalities would have a ready framework for collecting ethnic group and related data and taking action where appropriate. The Health Minister, Rosie Winterton, said she expected NHS and social services leaders to work with her to make sustained improvements to services and workforce practices for all communities based on sound ethnic group data.