NHS Employers says that all current contracts should be checked for standards.
Commenting on the responsibility of primary care organisations (PCOs) and GPs under contract to PCOs, a DoH spokesman said they will have ‘to tackle discrimination and to ensure their work promotes equality of opportunity in policy and service provision — this would cover referral services’.
‘Breaches of general duty will be subject to judicial review.’
All PCOs must prepare a Gender Equality Scheme setting out the actions the authority intends to take to minimise any gender bias.
NHS Employers said this needed to be done by 30 April 2007 and a senior-level steering group is needed to oversee the process.
It advises GPs and PCOs to use qualitative and quantitative data to look at the impact of services and level of satisfaction among male and female patients. Patients should also be consulted about proposals to be included in the Gender Equality Scheme.