Published: Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Chair blog: Difference doesn't matter. Understanding does.


I mentioned in my last blog that for the second year in a row the NHS National Waiting Times Centre was the top Scottish NHS Board in Stonewall's Workplace Equality Index (WEI).




As most of you probably know, the WEI is a measure of how an organisation meets the needs of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) staff and service users and is a good indicator for equality generally.


Equality and diversity lie at the heart of the NHS, and as a national resource for Scotland, it is particularly important to us here. Equality is about creating a fairer society where everyone has an opportunity to fulfil their potential. Diversity is about recognising and valuing difference in its broadest sense.  We are all different, and we are also all important and valuable.


By investing in each one and all of you, we can deliver a better service and improve patient care. But, more importantly, our primary focus is to invest in fair, accessible services for our patients.


Indeed, another of our recent good news stories is that we were runners up in the Patient Experience Network (PEN) National Awards for 2011 - the only dedicated UK national awards for healthcare organisations working to improve patient experience.


This was for our 'Volunteer Support for Sensory Impaired Patients' programme where two fully trained volunteers assist patients and carers attending the Golden Jubilee National Hospital who suffer from hearing impairment.


Since the initiative began in 2009, the volunteers, who both wear hearing aids themselves, have developed their roles and are now responsible for providing information, advice and hearing aid maintenance to patients, carers and staff. They also inspect our induction loop systems and train staff on how to better communicate with those who have a hearing impairment.


You may wonder why we spend so much of our time and resources on the promotion of equality and diversity. Put simply, providing high quality patient care means treating every patient as an individual with different needs and expectations.  Exactly the same as each of us wants to be treated.


We aim to continually meet or exceed the expectations of our patients. To all our staff I know that this is just part and parcel of the job – providing person centred, safe and effective care for all.


We do need to support our staff, so we are pleased to be launching our Diversity Champions programme that allows members of staff, from any occupation or seniority, to provide colleagues with advice and support in this area. We are also undertaking Investors in Diversity, an initiative that will further improve our equality and diversity arrangements in the coming years.


So I want to thank you for all your hard work in this area.  We are doing well in valuing our staff, patients and stakeholders.  But of course we can always do that little bit better.  So I look forward to the continuing positive impact on patient care that all of this work brings.


Jeane Freeman



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