§ Mr. Hinchliffe
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the initiatives being undertaken by the NHS management executive in respect of meeting the needs of black and ethnic minority patients and staff; and what equivalent initiatives she is taking for personal social services.
§ Mr. Sackville
Our goal for the health and personal social services is that there should be equal opportunities for both users and employees. To achieve this, we aim that the Department—including the national health service management executive—should harness current major policies so that black and ethnic groups derive full benefit from them; and should support those national and local organisations which represent the health and social care needs of black and ethnic groups, and may also assist in meeting them.
To carry forward these aims in respect of health and health care, my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary established a task force which examined how to spread more widely the good practice which already exists in improving services for ethnic people. We hope to announce our response shortly.
In respect of employment, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has set up an informal working group to advise her on the best way forward. She is currently awaiting the group's recommendations and will consider possible action in the autumn.
To carry forward the same broad strategic aims in the provision by local authorities and others of personal social services for black and ethnic minorities, the Department funds the race equality unit which offers a consultancy service to local authority social services departments on good practice in delivering services to ethnic minorities.
In addition, the Department's social services inspectorate has adopted a policy statement on race equality which commits it topromoting the delivery of accessible and cost-effective personal social services which are appropriate to the needs of a multi-racial and multi-cultural society, giving full regard to different needs and expectations of people from a variety of races and cultures".
It is carrying this out in various ways, including, for example, the preparation of practice guidance concerning community care in response to the inspectorate's report "Black communities—who cares?".