Equality and Diversity System (EDS)


The Equality Delivery System (EDS) is a tool developed by the NHS Equality and Diversity Council to enable current and emerging NHS organisations to review and rate their equality performance with staff, patients and the public. The EDS was developed through engagement with over 2500 people, including patients and staff, reviews and reports on equality in the NHS, current good practice in the NHS and the Local Government Equality Framework.  It seeks to focus on people not processes‘.

Why it is needed

The Equality and Diversity Council has prioritised the EDS as the best means of helping the NHS to improve its equality performance. Despite much good practice, there is considerable evidence that some patients and communities are not as well served by the NHS as they should be. The EDS covers all nine protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2011.

The EDS:

  • provides a national standard for organisations to work towards
  • help organisations to address health inequalities by identifying those most in need in local areas
  • helps the NHS comply with the public sector equality duty
  • aligns with other NHS systems (NHS Constitution and the NHS Outcomes framework) to make joined up working easier.

By providing a national equalities tool for local use, the EDS will lead to greater consistency, transparency and greater sharing of good practice across the NHS.

The EDS: How it works

Commissioners and organisations are expected to:

  • identify local interests and assemble local evidence through JSNAs, surveys etc
  • agree roles with national and regional bodies
  • analyse their performance.

Performance is analysed using a rag-plus rating (red – undeveloped, amber- developing, green – achieving, purple – excelling) against 18 outcomes, grouped into the following four objectives:

  • better health outcomes for all
  • improved patient access and experience
  • empowered, engaged and included staff
  • inclusive leadership

A grade will be jointly agreed and priority actions selected for each objective.  Grades/actions should be published locally in annual reports, quality accounts etc and shared with Health and Wellbeing Boards.  Any serious concerns will be reported to the CQC.

What role will the Race Equality Foundation sector play in the EDS?

Social class, poverty and deprivation are often closely related to the incidence of ill-health and the take-up of treatment. In addition, many people from black and minority ethnic groups are affected by these factors, and as a result experience difficulties in accessing, using and working in the NHS.

The Race Equality Foundation have been involved in the development of the EDS.  It is expected that the continued involvement of the voluntary and community sector in the roll out and rating phases will be integral to the successful implementation of the strategy at local level.   There are several ways in which the VCS can be involved:

  • helping organisations implement the EDS by facilitating engagement at the local and institutional level
  • explaining performance ratings and equality objectives to patients.

We also took part in the EDS launch on 10th November 2011.

Find out more