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Urgent action needed as ethnic minority patients ‘failed’ by the NHS, says BMA

Urgent action needed as ethnic minority patients ‘failed’ by the NHS, says BMA

Ethnic minority patients are being ‘failed’ by the NHS because they are receiving ‘poorer care’, the BMA has said.

It follows a report by the NHS Race and Health Observatory, an independent expert body established by the NHS to examine health disparities due to race in England, which said that ‘radical action’ is needed on race inequity.

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul today said the report’s findings are ‘unacceptable’ and need to be ‘put right as [a] matter of urgency’.

The report, published yesterday, found:

  • Ethnic minority groups were less likely to be referred to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services than White British patients;
  • Black children were 10 times more likely to receive a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) referral from social services than through a GP, compared to White British children;
  • Ethnic minority patients were not as satisfied with telephone triage systems in GP practices;
  • They were also less likely to access digital services for STI testing and were less likely to have used electronic health records to look at diabetes results.

The NHS Race and Health Observatory highlighted the need to invest in interpreter services for face-to-face, digital and telephone GP appointments for ethnic minority patients who do not speak English. 

Dr Nagpaul said the report is ‘a shocking indictment of the scale of harm that racism is causing millions of people in the UK’. 

He said: ‘The findings show that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are being failed within the health service across all age groups and clinical areas. As patients receive poorer care on the basis of race, the NHS is failing to honour its core value – to treat everyone equally.’

Dr Nagpaul added: ‘Millions of people are not only faced with poorer health outcomes but are also experiencing racism when interacting with the NHS and this report, which is the first of its kind, highlights the fact that these experiences have been hidden and concealed due to a lack of data.

‘The data in this report is unacceptable and shows that racism within the healthcare service follows millions of people – right from birth to death. This can no longer be ignored – there is a moral duty to put this right as [a] matter of urgency.’

The Government ‘must openly acknowledge structural racism within the NHS and the barriers that it creates’, after failing to do so in its own race disparity report last year, he said.

It must develop a ‘cross-government action plan with tangible outcomes, timescales and agreement across the NHS’, which ‘must be done in an open and transparent manner with involvement from people from ethnic minority backgrounds’, he added. 

Dr Nagpaul said that people ‘are tired of hearing about processes all while experiencing shocking levels of care on a daily basis’ and said ‘we need action now’.

It comes as the CQC admitted that its inspections may ‘inadvertently disadvantage’ ethnic minority GPs.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 15 February, 2022 8:43 pm

Equality. That dirty word, like candour, transparency and honesty. The NHS doesn’t even treat it’s workforce with respect and dignity, why bother talking about the public. The workforce itself is persecuted. Look at yourself first. Not long ago, they were stripping you of your autonomy, consent and arranging your dismissal.