HC Deb 11 July 2002 vol 388 cc1207-8W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures have been implemented to reduce racial harassment of NHS staff; how many incidents of racial(a) abuse and (b) attacks have been recorded in the last year in each health authority; and if he will make a statement. [67420]

Mr. Hutton

The Government is fully committed to diversity and equality of opportunity for all health service staff and patients and we are taking vigorous action to achieve this. There is no place for discrimination or harassment in the National Health Service on grounds of race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or age.

The Improving Working Lives (IWL) Standard establishes targets and measures for promoting real improvements in the working lives of NHS staff. It makes it clear that every member of staff is entitled to work in an organisation which can prove that it is investing in, and improving, diversity and tackling discrimination and harassment.

Activity to achieve this aim is occurring on a number of fronts. We have launched an equalities framework (`The Vital Connection') which incorporates clear requirements for the NHS in promoting equality and introduces a package of indicators, standards and monitoring arrangements to support progress and manage performance as part of human resources performance management. It includes specific measures on race and harassment.

In addition, the 'Positively Diverse' programme is developing the knowledge and capacity of NHS organisations to build and manage a diverse workforce. It provides the process for achieving the equalities related aspects of IWL and the targets set by the equalities framework and supports NHS organisations in meeting the workforce challenges set by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. In addition, new guidance and publicity posters, aligned with the NHS zero tolerance zone campaign, on dealing with harassment from service users has been developed and will be launched in September.

Information on incidents of racial abuse or attacks is not collected centrally, but may be held at a local level by NHS employers. The findings of the 2000–2001 survey of reported violent or abusive incidents, accidents involving staff and sickness absence in NHS trusts and health authorities, in England, were published on 13 June. A copy of the report setting out the main findings of the survey has been placed in the Library.