Afiya Trust demands action to curb racial inequalities in care

Campaign group The Afiya Trust today unveiled a seven-point manifesto to tackle persistent racial inequalities in health and social care, including the setting up of a race and health advisory board and new performance targets.

The trust, which works to reduce inequalities, said that though experiences differed widely between and within black and minority ethnic communities, many faced poorer than average health outcomes, had a worse experience of care services and also had less awareness of them.

Based on consultations with 500 service users, practitioners and carers nationwide, as well as a literature review, the manifesto cited evidence including that:-

  • Self-reported health problems such as anxiety, asthma, bronchitis and chest pain were twice to five times more prevalent among traveller communities than the general population.
  • Rates of mental health community treatment orders are higher than the national average for Indian, Bangladeshi, black Caribbean and other black groups.
  • Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities have among the highest rates of people caring for more than 50 hours a week but many BME carers are isolated.

Afiya chief executive Patrick Vernon said while much work had been done to try to improve inequalities there was “disturbing evidence that health inequalities” were getting wider between the general population and BME communities.

He said: “The findings of our manifesto show that the life expectancy and the quality of life for BME communities in England is a human rights issue. We are dying younger and experiencing long term health conditions and disability. We need to break this vicious cycle so that everyone is treated equally and fairly. This requires a major cultural and leadership shift in mainstream services and government.”     

The manifesto called for:

  • An advisory board on race reporting directly to the health secretary to feed in the views of BME communities into policy making.
  • Milestones to end racial inequalities in health and social care, tied to performance targets.
  • A yearly independent report on race inequalities in health and social care.

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