Equality and diversity: The law and our public duties as a healthcare provider

Equality legislation changed in 2010 with the introduction of the new Equality Act (2010). This act replaced all previous anti-discrimination laws with a single piece of legislation in order to simplify the law, remove any inconsistencies and make it easier for people to understand and comply with it. It also strengthened certain aspects of the law around tackling discrimination and inequality.

Within the overall Equality Act, public sector organisations such as healthcare Trusts have specific duties which need to be fulfilled. This is known as the public sector equality duty.

The public sector equality duty consists of a general duty and a number of specific duties. These replace the three old public sector duties for race, disability and gender.

The general duty has three aims and requires public sector organisations to have due regard to the need to: 

  • eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation;
  • advance equality of opportunity between people from different groups; and
  • foster good relations between people from different groups.

The specific duties require public bodies to set specific, measurable equality objectives and to publish information about their performance on equality, so that the public can hold them to account. UHS will do this through the implementation of the NHS Equality Delivery System