Embedding diversity through leadership


17 / 11 / 2009

The organisation

NHS Liverpool Community Health (LCH) serves over 482,000  people in Liverpool (including 10 per cent from neighbouring local authorities). It delivers over 60 services across a wide spectrum, including those that are traditional and community based, such as nursing, diagnostic and therapies as well as more diverse services including sexual health, dental and community equipment. It has a workforce of 2500 employees.

What we did and why

NHS Liverpool Community Health (LCH) was previously known as Liverpool PCT Provider Services. The separation of the commissioning and provider arms presented a good time to review and embed equality and diversity across all services and employment.
The board of LCH aligned their strategic objectives to focus on addressing health inequalities through the services and promote diversity across the workforce. Its vision is ‘to excel in the delivery of healthcare, treatment and advice to people in their homes and communities’.
LCH realised that successful delivery of the equality and diversity agenda relied on clarity about who is responsible and accountable for it.

A review of the staff survey showed that promoting equality did not appear to be a significant part of the leadership role. Even where leaders did recognise their role in promoting equality, they were often unclear about what they need to do. Responsibility for delivering on equality had not been made a priority for senior managers.

The organisation needed to demonstrate leadership around the needs of diverse communities, particularly for the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups.

LCH has put significant investment into equality, diversity and leadership development across the organisation for all levels of management to address these issues.

How we did it

A comprehensive leadership programme was launched for middle managers in April 2008, and for senior managers in September 2009.  The programme includes a real commitment to equality and diversity in the context of the new environment and in terms of the producing business cases and tendering for services. This helps to ensure that NHS Liverpool Community Health is the best provider for the diverse population.

A decision was taken to focus on understanding and engaging with the community in order to promote services to all equality groups. Understanding service users is seen as a unique selling point for service managers when the commissioner reviews services.

LCH board have recognised the importance of focusing on the equality and diversity agenda. Through board development and the production of the single equality scheme, equality is being embedded within mainstream performance management and accountability frameworks. A clear message was sent that the performance of Liverpool Provider Services would in part be judged by the progress they were making in reducing inequality,

Support is provided to each service so that diversity is not seen as a domain solely for HR, and to work together with the management team to deliver improvement in service delivery and employment.
Regular engagement with communities  has enabled managers to use the feedback as part of the tender process to improve commissioning.
The trust recognised the benefits of having strong internal networks that were empowered to have more say over the issues and the services that affect the organisation and their community. The trust has supported the development of a Black Minority Ethnic, and a Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Trans (LGBT) network.


  Results and next steps

  • Continued development of the board around equality and diversity, and the production of a focused action plan.
  • BME network key contributor to national research around disciplinary management and ethnicity in the NHS.
  • Full roll-out of senior management leadership programme incorporating strong focus on equality and diversity.
  • Roll-out of the first line management programme from April 2010.
  • Review of recruitment skills in the organisation and development for managers.
  • Development of the workforce plan.
  • A single equality scheme was launched in October 2009.  

Contact details

Vicky Roper
Liverpool Community Health
Director of HR

(0151) 296 3210


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