A group of primary care trusts have pledged to be the first to meet performance targets to reduce health inequalities experienced by black and minority ethnic communities.

The 19 PCTs, members of the Department of Health-funded Race for Health programme, will draw up and implement plans that will target four disease areas more likely to affect BME groups: diabetes, perinatal mortality, mental health and coronary heart disease and stroke.

South Asian people are six times more likely to suffer type-2 diabetes than white people and young black men are six times more likely than young white men to be sectioned.

The PCTs were also expected to promise at today's annual Race for Health and HSJ conference to achieve full compliance with the Race Relations Act. Last month a Healthcare Commission audit found just 9 per cent of trusts were meeting all duties under the act (for more background, click here).

Other pledges were to undertake and publish race equality impact assessments of local delivery and commissioning plans and workforce strategies and to show board-level engagement with equality through development programmes.

DoH national director for equality and human rights Surinder Sharma said pledges needed to be translated into action. 'This is no box-ticking exercise. It is a reinvigoration of the battle to eliminate inequality, to highlight the real problems and deliver speedy action. It is a genuine, purposeful and testable pledge to narrow the unfairness that blights so many lives.'