27 / 01 / 2009
NHS South West
Devon Partnership NHS Trust was established in 2001 and works in partnership to deliver high quality mental health and learning disability services.
Its neighbouring Cornwall Partnership Trust was formed as a specialist provider trust in April 2002, to serve Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The trust provides specialist mental health, learning disabilities, drug and alcohol and eating disorder services to adults and children. It employs nearly 2,500 staff in a range of in-patient and community settings across the county and in the Isles of Scilly. It supports a population of more than 500,000.
Devon Partnership NHS trust developed a partnership agreement with Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust to find creative approaches to shared equality and diversity challenges. They agreed to meet periodically - involving key stakeholders - to plan and review areas of mutual interest, before implementing in their own trusts. The basis for their effective partnership working has been the following:
- Keeping the issues clear and simple
- Influencing awareness and gaining ownership at senior levels, through creative and pragmatic approaches
- Not waiting to get the adminstrative back-up perfect but ensuring work meets legislative requirements and pressing on
- Showing results
- Building a range of internal and external stakeholders; using different people for different projects to ensure continued engagement and reduce silo working
Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust adopted its third version of the SES in April 2007, which emphasises the following:
Personal and organisational awareness; beliefs and behaviour which value differences in people; recognise the enhanced contribution of a diverse workforce and ensure equal access to socially and culturally sensitive health services.
The trust's diversity steering group comprises representatives from across the trust and it monitors the implementation of its SES. Devon trust also has an equality and diversity implementation group that monitors the implementation of its SES.
Joint SES activities, developed through the partnership, include:
- objectively auditing each other's websites - one of the key vehicles for communicating its diversity work - from an informed perspective
- holding a joint meeting with key stakeholders from both Cornwall and Devon to discuss both religious and spiritual aspects of the SES, make better use of internal and community resources (for example Faith and LGBT groups), and ensure cross fertilisation of ideas
- setting up a joint spirituality reference group
- running more training on sexual orientation, spirituality and religion
- accessing a shared reference group of experts
Both trusts have adopted a proactive approach to diversity in an area that has particular challenges including:
- a high percentage of people with disabilities
- a significant ethnic diversity
- a recent influx of migrant workers which may pose future challenges in terms of employment and service provision
- sharing thinking and collaboration on mutual issues to make our processes more efficient and effective, and leading to other joint working and learning
- fully integrating the SES, avoiding duplication and ensuring better buy-in
- regular monitoring and reviewing the SES ensuring prioritisation of key issues - resources are allocated on a needs basis
- improving awareness at senior levels - crucial to the SES's implementation
- establishing successful links with users and interest groups, identifying real concerns
- cited by the Department of Health as a good practice model for equality and diversity
- Build on the existing partnership working arrangements
- Maintain the momentum and demonstrate improvements, through rigorous performance management and impact assessments
Dr. Simon Harrison, Equality and Diversity Advisor, Devon Partnership NHS Trust