NHS England’s drive to boost the representation of ethnic minorities in senior positions will be followed by an equalities push on disability, sexual orientation and gender, its head of equality has said.

Ruth Passman told HSJ that the commissioning body’s work on a national workforce race equality standard for the NHS was the first phase of a wider programme.

“We will evaluate that, and we will then be bringing forward future phases of work [on] disability, sexual orientation and gender,” she added.

Healthcare workers

The standard will apply to NHS organisations including CCGs and NHS England

“We’re already doing work in those areas, and scoping [them] in terms of looking at similar actions [to the race equality standard],” Ms Passman said.

NHS England announced in July that NHS organisations would be forced to increase the representation of ethnic minorities in senior positions or face contractual and regulatory consequences.

The new standard is due to be imposed on the health service through the NHS standard contract from April 2015. It would also apply to clinical commissioning groups and NHS England itself.

Ms Passman said NHS England would examine “where the evidence tells us there are some of the most compounded problems”.

She added that NHS England was already looking at developing an “information standard” about sexual orientation monitoring in the workforce.

This is being developed with Public Health England and voluntary sector partners, including the Lesbian and Gay Foundation.

“That certainly is a phase of work that is ready to move,” Ms Passman said.