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Legal duties

Public Sector Equality Duty – General Equality Duty

The Equality Act includes a general equality duty that replaces previous separate duties on race, disability and gender equality. It aims to ensure that public authorities, and those carrying out public functions, consider how they can positively contribute to a fairer society through advancing equality and fostering good relations.

The duty ensures that equality considerations are built in to the design of policies and the delivery of services and that they are kept under review. We are required to have due regard of the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct that is prohibited by the Act.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant characteristic and those who do not.
  • Foster good relations between people who share a relevant characteristic and those who do not.

Having ‘due regard’ means consciously thinking about the three aims of the Equality Duty as part of the process of decision-making. This means that consideration of equality issues must influence how our decisions are reached on how services are commissioned. To make sure we comply with the Act we must:

  • Remove or minimise disadvantages experienced people due to their protected characteristics.
  • Take steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people.
  • Encourage people with protected characteristics to take part in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.

Public Sector Equality Duty – Specific Duties

Specific duties set out in the Equality Act 2010 promote better performance of the general equality duty by requiring the publication of equality objectives, at least every four years and information to demonstrate compliance with the equality duty, at least annually.  These tell us the steps we need to take to demonstrate we are paying due regard to the general duty.

The Human Rights Act 1998

The Human Rights Act 1998 details how the UK complies with and implements the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights. All public bodies have an obligation to ensure respect for Human Rights, acting in ways that positively reinforce the principles of the Act.

The Act came into force in October 2000 and enabled people to enforce the European Convention on Human Rights in the UK courts. Article 14 of the Human Rights Act 1998 refers to the prohibition of discrimination, and states that the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set out in the European Convention on Human Rights shall be secured without discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.

Health and Social Care Act 2012

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 states that, each commissioning group must, in the exercise of its functions, have the regard to the need to:

  • Reduce inequalities between patients with respect to their ability to access health services.
  • Reduce inequalities between patients with respect to the outcomes achieved for them by provision of health services.
  • Promote the involvement of patients and their carers in decisions about provision of the health services to them.
  • Enable patients to make choices with respect to aspects of health services provided to them.

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