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Damning indictment of vast racial health inequalities

25th Feb 2022

Last year, the NHS Race and Health Observatory was tasked with carrying out a rapid evidence review and providing evidence of the stark health inequalities faced by ethnic minority communities in England. More research is not required as the scale of the anomalies has already been subjected to numerous reports. The aim was to synthesise what already exists, translate it into actionable policy recommendations, and challenge leaders to finally act.

Despite repeated promises of action, the study’s release this month is a depressing reminder of successive Conservative governments’ failure to prioritise health inequalities over the last decade. These are not just clear at every stage of life of ethnic minorities living in this country but cover access to every aspect of healthcare found in the experiences of structural, institutional and interpersonal racism. And the discrimination is not only in services provided but faced NHS staff themselves as well as the care workforce.

The review breaks down the many areas that require attention, including some that stand out in particular, in mental health, maternal and neonatal health, digital inclusion, genomics and precision medicine and with personnel too. Each is separately detailed and summarised with recommendations for research and in practice and policy. In addition, there are a whole series of conclusions.

So extensive are previous reports that there is no reason for more. These reports have tended to delay action and brush-off the inequalities which political leaders have been reluctant to admit are racial. As the Director of the Observatory, Habib Naqvi, set up for the purpose in 2020, says, there is no excuse for inaction.Concrete recommendations need to be carried out with no further delays. No more waiting is needed.

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