More than 90 per cent of NHS organisations could be failing to meet their legal requirements to publish equality documents, a consultancy firm has warned.

NHS bodies are legally required to publish online documents relating to equality schemes, employment monitoring and equality impact assessments and ensure they are up to date.

The results raise questions about the general effectiveness of the regulators

Diversity specialists Healthcare Equality Partners audited 40 organisations including hospital, mental health ambulance and primary care trusts for compliance. It used a standard previously employed by the Healthcare Commission in its audits - that such documents must be found within half an hour of starting a website search.

The audit found 90 per cent of the trusts were not fully compliant. Common failings included out of date equality schemes and workforce monitoring reports that were not current.

Overall, ambulance trusts tended to perform the best and mental health trusts the worst, the audit found.

Healthcare Equality Partners director of consultancy and interim management Vincent Hodges said: “The results raise questions about the general effectiveness of the regulators in monitoring and enforcing compliance against the equality publication duties.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has powers to investigate whether trusts are complying with the law on equality documents. However, it does not routinely monitor organisations and only investigates if tipped off.

The three best performing trusts in the audit carried out this summer - Frimley Park Hospital Foundation Trust, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, and NHS Surrey - were last year the only NHS organisations ever to be issued with non-compliance notices by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

They were warned they could face legal action if they did not put race equality schemes in place. Surrey and Kent and Medway were also told to improve their employment monitoring.

A spokesman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said he was not aware any NHS bodies were being investigated for non-compliance with equality law.

The Equality Act 2010, due to come into effect in October, sets out a new range of duties for public sector bodies across all diversity areas.