The East Midlands AHSN committed to conduct Equality Analysis (also known as equality impact assessments) to address health inequalities, meet the Public Sector Equality Duty and ensure their projects and programmes were accessible.

They saw it as essential to have external stakeholder involvement and scrutiny. This would allow for the perspectives of diverse patients and the public to surface gaps in information and issues that staff don’t see. With their input, the assessments would help mitigate discrimination and adverse effects for people from protected characteristics and wider underserved groups.

Action taken

The East Midlands AHSN established an Expert Peoples Panel (EPP) composed of people from protected characteristics and wider groups. They would provide independent scrutiny to confirm, challenge and advise on the organisation’s equality analysis of specific programmes.

Since the EPP was established, the East Midlands AHSN has brought 15 Equality Analysis documents to the panel. The feedback has been invaluable and highlighted where programmes would potentially have an adverse effect on people facing the worst health inequalities. This informed the final assessment and took forward the required actions.

Next steps

The East Midlands AHSN are encouraging their staff to use the panel whenever they establish new programmes. Following evaluation, the organisation is looking at potentially offering the EPP as a resource to their wider health and care system.


  • Providing a template and expecting high-quality equality analysis didn’t work. The East Midlands AHSN invested time building staff knowledge and confidence, shifting away from the tick box approach, and encouraging and nurturing staff to think about their programmes through an equality lens.
  • Welcoming external public scrutiny leads to better quality equality analysis. It demonstrates openness and transparency, and staff are more likely to listen and act on feedback.
  • Involving public contributors with knowledge and insight is key. The East Midlands AHSN identified and supported patient and public representatives who, in addition to their lived experience, developed sound awareness of the purpose and content of equality analysis. They brought assessment, analytical and judgement skills, along with the ability to provide constructive feedback.


Access more learning case studies – Diversity and Innovation Progress and Learning Report 2022.