The big question

Will recruiting health staff from deprived backgrounds
make a difference to clients?

Len Smith
Gypsy activist

Trawling society for future doctors is a good thing. Clients from
underprivileged classes often feel patronised by middle class
professionals. A representation across class and cultural
backgrounds will go some way towards addressing ethnic or cultural
sensitivity. If a person has the ability, why should class be a

Kierra Box
Young people’s campaigner

Medicine is not the place to trial schemes such as this. Sidelining
competence ignores the economic realities of lengthy training. If
we are serious about giving the underprivileged opportunities, they
must be in line with the skills and ambitions of real people – not
calculated simply to fill staff shortages.

Joan Scott
Director, Action Unlimited

Some professionals come across as stuck up and speak in a
language you can’t understand. If I have a choice of doctors I
always try to get the one who doesn’t look down on you and takes
time to listen and explain things. I prefer dealing with a woman
but I’m not that bothered about their background.

Karen Shook
Disability equality adviser

They need to look at doctors’ training. It doesn’t matter whether
someone comes from a council estate or a public school – if all
they get is half a day’s lecture on disability awareness or
sexuality that’s no good. I’m for positive discrimination as long
as what they are proposing doesn’t lead to a dilution of academic

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