More than 20 primary care trusts have pledged to tackle inequality in healthcare

Twenty-one primary care trusts have pledged to develop and implement plans to tackle dramatic inequalities for black and minority ethnic communities in four disease areas: diabetes, perinatal mortality, mental health, and coronary heart disease and stroke.

They are all members of the Department of Health-funded Race for Health programme.

The pledges respond to serious inequalities:

  • People from the South Asian community are six times more likely to have type 2 diabetes than those from the white population and at a much younger age.

  • Infant mortality in England and Wales for children born to mothers from Pakistan is double the average.

  • South Asian people are 50 per cent more likely to develop heart disease and kidney failure, two of the key consequences of diabetes.

  • The prevalence of stroke among African-Caribbean and South Asian men is 40 per cent to 70 per cent higher than for the general population.

  • Young black men are six times more likely than young white men to be sectioned for compulsory treatment under the Mental Health Act.

Department of Health national equality and human rights director Surinder Sharma says: "These pledges need to be translated into real action, giving clear messages to local partnerships, to the BME communities who use services and to the broader NHS community. They demonstrate that the time for talking about race equality is over. Together, we are doing something about it, and the NHS is ready to be judged on its success in moving equality and human rights forward.

"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. I am proud to be associated with such a commitment to change."

The 21 signing up to the pledges include: Berkshire East PCT, Bradford and Airedale Teaching PCT, Bristol PCT, Ealing PCT, Haringey Teaching PCT, Hastings and Rother PCT, Lambeth PCT, Leeds PCT, Leicester City PCT, Liverpool PCT, Luton Teaching PCT, Manchester PCT, Oldham PCT, Shropshire County PCT, South Birmingham PCT, Suffolk PCT, Wandsworth Teaching PCT, Westminster PCT, Wolverhampton City PCT.

The pledge in full:

Primary care trusts belonging to the Race for Health programme are committed to achieving real and measurable improvement for people from black and minority ethnic communities in relation to health, health services, health outcomes and employment in the NHS.

All Race for Health PCTs pledge to:

1. Achieve 100 per cent compliance with the Race Relations Amendment Act with regards to:

  • producing and publishing an effective and comprehensive race equality scheme;

  • collecting, analysing and publishing workforce data on ethnicity relating to selection, access to training, career progression, grievances and disciplinaries;

  • undertaking race equality impact assessments and publishing the results and related activities.

2. Undertake and publish the results of race equality impact assessments of:

  • local delivery plans;

  • commissioning strategies;

  • workforce strategies.

3. Demonstrate that race equality is effectively addressed at board level through the PCT's board development programme.

4. Develop detailed plans for activity and improvement on:

  • diabetes;

  • perinatal mortality;

  • coronary heart disease and stroke;

  • and mental health

  • using the Race for Health template or an adaptation that will deliver the same measurable outcomes, and including appropriate mechanisms for capturing and reporting on patient experience.

5. PCT members of Race for Health undertake to provide a written report of performance against these pledges, supported and endorsed by their thinking partner, by 31 March 2008.