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The Scottish Executive Health Department (SEHD) is aware of the current composition and spread of ethnic minority groups in Scotland. There is an influx of asylum seekers/refugees into the country, but the figures are not expected to change significantly in the next five years. The Equality Unit has commissioned work which will also look more closely at the demographic profiles of ethnic minority communities in Scotland. Other data sources relating to socio-economic characteristics are inconclusive. The present 'stocktake' exercise will contribute to future DEPLAN, the Scottish Executive strategic plan.
Energising the Organisation: Race Equality and Equal Opportunity Policies
The Secretary of State in 1997 at the Scottish Partnership Forum meeting reinforced the Executive's stance on equality.
The SHD has a robust and comprehensive Equal Opportunities Policy and has taken a lead (through the Guideline Development Group) that all National Health Service in Scotland (NHSiS) employers must have equal opportunities policy in place and appropriate monitoring to ensure the policies work. A 'Model' Equal Opportunities Policy has been made available to all NHSiS employers in order to facilitate this process.
Incoming staff are given a copy of the Equal Opportunities Information Pack, containing leaflets about the different aspects of equal opportunities including race, harassment and complaints about discrimination. Every member of staff also has access to these and other leaflets which are available via the Department's INTRANET. However, in practice, it is uncertain whether all employers have read the policies or understand the implications and their individual responsibility in relation to the policies.
The SHD has a designated Director/Head of Division with a lead responsibility for health and ethnicity. A strategy for improving the experience of ethnic minority people in the NHSiS is being evolved alongside current development in a 'stocktake' review of activities of Health Boards and Trusts in Scotland in relation to ethnic minority health.
There is no specific anti-discriminatory training delivered to senior management and staff, however, equality forms part of all management training programmes and staff training and development.
The Department has been pro-active in building links with local, regional and national racial equality networks and in forging partnership with organisations, such as the Commission for Racial Equality.
Access: Service Delivery
There is a variable data set which, in theory, would encourage the inclusion of ethnicity as part of data collection by Information and Statistics Division. However, the SHD believes that small numbers and resource management makes this option, impractical.
In 1998, the then Minister of Health challenged the NHSiS to do more to meet the needs of ethnic minority communities in Scotland. Health Boards and Trusts were encouraged to live by the spirit, and not the letter, of present legislation. In response, the SHD has commissioned a Scotland wide 'stocktake' to determine the extent of activities in relation to ethnic minority health. This work will further provide guidance to Health Boards and Trusts on how to achieve a suitable standard in racial equality.
Numerous consultations have taken place, involving the ethnic minority communities, including the SHD-Ethnic Advisory Group. These consultations will help to inform future strategy, policy and resource allocation.
The Equality Unit has pulled together a group to review and strengthen translation and interpreting services in Scotland.
Human Resources: Recruitment and Selection
The staff who are involved in recruitment, selection and interview are given guidance and training on non-discriminatory practices and procedures.
Most posts are advertised within the Scottish Executive and appear weekly in the 'Scottish Executive News'. There is now a requirement placed on all NHSiS employers to ensure that job advertisement reaches the widest possible audience and should include the organisation's aim with respect to equal opportunities: NHSiS Organisational Change Policy document _ NHS MEL (1999) 7.
SHD has also issued a set of Equality Indicators as part of the Equal Opportunities Model Policy for NHSiS employers. The Equality Indicators include monitoring of ethnicity and grade as part of the workforce profile. There is also an added option for employers who may wish to collect similar data on religion. The Equality Indicators are also used to record the numbers of staff employed in senior posts.
Reference: Equal Opportunities Policy, Section 2.4, page 10 ... on Ethnic Origin of Staff Employed by NHSiS. The section states that all NHSiS employers must collect ethnic minority data for all staff groups as a matter of priority in accordance with the 'Code of Practice on Race'.
There are no objectives relating to addressing the under-representation of ethnic minority staff in the department or to increase the proportion of staff from the group at senior level. However, various strategies, including positive action, are being considered.
Human Resources: Development and Retention of Staff
All staff of the SHD are encouraged to have a personal development plan. A yearly appraisal round also identifies areas for individual development and career progression.
'Scoop', the Scottish Executive's quarterly newspaper carries frequent news about staff activities and about what is happening within the Executive.
The SHD has achieved the 'Investor in People' national standard for training and development. The Executive has also drawn attention of all NHSiS employers to Section 38 of the Race Relations Act, which allows employers to implement special training for women and ethnic minority groups.
The Executive has issued guidelines to NHSiS to collect data on the number of staff leaving employment as a percentage of total headcount of staff in post and reasons for leaving. However, it failed to issue similar guidelines on the grounds of ethnicity.
The Scottish Executive has commissioned System Three Social Research to conduct a scoping exercise to determine the detailed requirements for a new and wide-ranging survey of Scotland's ethnic minority populations and to recommend methodological options for meeting these. The main element of the exercise is to determine the information requirements of those with an interest in research, making policy and providing services to Scotland's ethnic minority populations.
SHD, as already mentioned, is in the process of setting mechanisms in place to measure and review the quality of translation and interpreting services provided by NHSiS. The complaint procedure is available in various community languages including Urdu, Chinese and Arabic. There are plans to make other literatures available in ethnic languages. The department also provides information and training to ethnic minority community groups and voluntary organisations on the decision-making process and how it works.
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