Lancet study shows health inequalities goes beyond healthcare

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Today’s research in The Lancet is concerning. The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on the health inequalities faced by members of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in society, and this study adds to that evidence base. It shows that issues need to be addressed across the NHS. But what it really drives home is that health inequalities goes far beyond healthcare, far beyond the pandemic, and a genuinely society-wide approach is needed to tackle them.

"In general, the GP Patient Survey consistently shows high levels of patient satisfaction with general practice and trust in primary healthcare professionals. But it’s important that all patients have the opportunity to feedback about their experiences of healthcare, regardless of how difficult it is to hear them, so that improvements can be made. Someone’s ethnicity must not impact the quality of healthcare they receive. When it is shown to, it must be addressed, and the College is committed to supporting ongoing efforts in this regard.

"Throughout the pandemic, the College has kept abreast of Covid-related issues impacting on BAME communities, and we’ve made significant efforts – such as lobbying for recommendations in the Fenton report to be implemented, and calling for rationale as to why ethnicity has not been included as prioritisation criteria for vaccination - to address these issues. We are currently calling for culturally competent communications tailored to local communities in order to address the projected low uptake of the Covid vaccine within black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

“This study is incredibly important, because it’s through good research that we are able to improve and progress. More research needs to be undertaken, so that we can understand the specific difficulties that individual ethnic minority groups experience, being careful not to take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to addressing them. It’s also important that general practice has the resources, workforce and support required to continue to deliver high-quality care to all of our patients, regardless of their ethnicity or background.”

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Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.