The NHS is failing to tackle disability discrimination, with strategic health authorities among the worst culprits, according to a watchdog.

Eight SHAs have been named and shamed for failing to comply with equality laws and could face legal action, following a Disability Rights Commission report Equal Treatment: closing the gap - one year on.

The commission, which has this week merged into the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, found NHS North East and NHS South West to be the only SHAs with 'adequate' disability equality schemes.

The schemes have been a legal requirement since last December, setting out how public bodies must promote equality for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems.

Six SHAs have been told they have 28 days to provide evidence of compliance before legal enforcement action is triggered.

NHS London and NHS Yorkshire and the Humber were criticised for not having any scheme in place - a claim they both deny. In particular, the DoH was criticised for refusing to break down government targets to identify 'who is dying young from the major killer diseases'.

A DoH spokesman said it was tackling the issue by including regular health checks for people with a severe mental illness in the GP contract, and granting£7m to 88 spearhead primary care trusts for well-being nurses to support physical health. 'We will continue to work with the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights once it is established,' he said.

A disability equality scheme was set to be signed off by NHS Yorkshire and the Humber on Tuesday. NHS London is consulting on a scheme.