Radical action needed to tackle racial health inequality in NHS
An edited version of this blog was published in the Guardian 16th February 2022
The impact of Covid-19 has been terrible in the UK, one of the worst in Europe. However, it has highlighted really important issues in our country and a lasting legacy would be if we learned lessons and changed. The pandemic has shone a light on things many but not all people already knew: the UK has the highest level of obesity, lowest level of statutory sick pay; insecure work; poor housing; digital exclusion; child abuse and racial inequality. This country produces good reports with good analysis and recommendations, but implementation and action often don’t follow; these are complex problems that cannot be solved quickly or easily and most of all need support across government sectors and political parties. A recent report from The NHS Race and Health Observatory has reviewed the inequalities suffered by black and minority people within the health system. According to the Office for National Statistics people from different minority ethnic groups have been at higher risk of dying from Covid: black people were four times as likely as white people to die from coronavirus early in the pandemic.
This damning report is incredibly important and needs action to be taken now at all levels. C3 Collaborating for Health has been working for a decade to highlight the burden of ill health and premature mortality from the main chronic diseases (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke) which fall disproportionately on minority populations and the same issues led to the high death rate and serious illness from Covid-19. With the support of the Burdett Trust for Nursing we will be working with nurses of a black or Asian heritage who can reach into their local communities and with their professional skill and cultural understanding to improve health outcomes among minority ethnic patients. The “radical action” called for by the report requires to be addressed by better support for the disadvantaged patients and for the key staff who can play a major part in the changes that are needed.