The Scottish Government has been accused of peddling “empty commitments” after new data revealed no NHS health boards have signed up to a key equality charter to tackle gender imbalance.

Scottish Labour hit out at the Scottish Government after a series of freedom of information requests revealed the landmark Equally Safe at Work employee accreditation programme has not been adopted.

The programme, developed by expert policy advocacy organisation Close the Gap, is designed to tackle gender inequality at work and prevent violence against women.

The strategy, jointly-led by the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, recognises that violence against women is a cause and consequence of wider gender inequality.

Nine local authorities took part in a pilot between January and December 2019 – but since then none have taken up the programme.

That is despite the Scottish Government’s efforts to encourage NHS boards to engage with the accreditation programme as part of the Women’s Health Plan recommendations.

According to the data, 10 NHS health boards said they are “not participating at this time”, however Dumfries and Galloway said it is applying to pilot the scheme.

Four local authorities said they do not hold the information, or they did not respond to the information request.


Scottish Labour women’s health spokeswoman Carol Mochan accused the Scottish Government of not taking women’s issues “seriously”.

She said: “Like so many things we hear from the Scottish Government, this is just another empty commitment that they hoped everyone would forget.

“A lot of time, money, and expertise goes into creating these plans, only for the SNP to let them gather dust.

“This is a shameful way for the SNP to repay the women working in the NHS, who have gone above and beyond to keep services going and compensate for the failures of the SNP Government.

“It is hardly surprising that health boards have very little time to enact these policies given the pressure this staffing crisis has put on them, but women shouldn’t have to pay the price for SNP failure.

“This sends yet another message to women that their concerns are not being taken seriously by a Government that has been slow to react to many of the big issues facing women across Scotland today.

“The SNP must stop dragging their heels and start delivering the Women’s Health Plan with the urgency it deserves.”


A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring all individuals are equally safe and respected, and that women and girls live free from all forms of violence and abuse – and the attitudes that help perpetuate it.

“The Equally Safe at Work scheme is still at pilot stage and we are encouraging all employers to consider the benefits this scheme can bring.

“All NHS staff should feel safe and secure in their workplace, and we have robust policies and procedures to help ensure this is the case.

“Working closely with NHS Employers, trade unions and our partnership organisations, we are taking action to ensure NHS Scotland has a diverse and inclusive workforce that is adaptive and involved in decisions, where equality and fairness are supported, and where staff feel valued and empowered. This includes work in employment policy, training and staff networks.”