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Equality bill will protect patients as well as NHS staff, says personnel expert

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A bill designed to protect the rights of all NHS staff should help improve services for patients, according to the health service’s top personnel expert.

The Equality Bill launched today is designed to simplify existing equality legislation already in existence.

Steve Barnett, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘while the duties included in this bill are important, what is needed is to encourage an attitude of equality in the day-to-day practice and delivery of services to patients.

‘This bill should not affect positive practices currently in place in the health system and the wording of duties will need to be carefully worked out so that primary care trusts and acute trusts are not put in a position where they are prevented from making decisions based on clinical rationale and risk.

‘Equality in treatment of the 1.4 million staff working in the NHS is paramount. As part of this, the introduction of the Agenda for Change pay system in 2004, developed in partnership with the health unions, is based on the principle of equal pay for equal value.’

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