A new equality and diversity council is being put together by the Department of Health in yet another move to help improve quality in the National Health Service, a core aspect of current healthcare reforms.

The key roles of the council - which will consist of representatives from patient groups, NHS staff, social care, voluntary organisations and the general public NHS chief executive David Nicholson at the reigns - is to “champion improvement and campaign for change” within equality and diversity issues.

More specifically, the group, which will operate as a sub committee of the NHS Management Board and work hand in hand with the National Leadership Council and the National Quality Board, has been tasked with: constructing a framework to enable healthcare professional to get closer to communities and thereby provide better personalised services; encourage managers to consider issues of equality and diversity; and promote widespread involvement in improving the uptake of innovation and good practice throughout the Service.

A spokesperson for the DH told PharmaTimes UK News that in the short term the Council will develop an assurance process to ensure the service is meeting its equality duties and develop a campaign plan that "positions E&D issues more strongly in the work of the NHS, generates interest and acts as a catalyst for sharing the undoubted good practice we already have around the NHS".

The plans are in line with Sir Ara Darzi’s vision of the future of the NHS as laid out in his report , which is heavily focused on improving the quality of healthcare services.

Lord Ouseley, Independent Crossbench Member of the House of Lords and former Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, has welcomed the move, explaining that it has the potential “to enable the NHS to focus coherently on the quality of, and access to, healthcare, which benefits all patients, service users and communities”.

And according to Nicholson, the new Council will play “a really important role” in helping the NHS to achieve its goal of “being able to deliver personalised services that meet the needs of individual patients and local communities“.