Axing ethnic minority health reports will hamper inequality push

Plans to stop reporting on ethnic minorities' experience of healthcare will hamper moves to cut inequalities, doctors have warned.

The DoH is consulting on whether to stop issuing reports on the experience of health services of patients from black and minority ethnic groups and to simply publish raw data.

The South Asian Health Foundation (SAHF) has warned the move could ‘significantly challenge not only equitable delivery of the White Paper, but also the drive to address inequalities’.

Dr Wasim Hanif of University Hospital Birmingham, chairman of SAHF’s diabetes working group, told GP the report needed to be fine-tuned, rather than dropped.

‘The most important thing was that it was being highlighted,’ he said. The problem with raw data is that no one notices it. It is impossible to look at the raw data.’

Dr Hanif said that studies continued to identify health inequalities for minority ethnic groups. He said that axing the reports would not send out a positive message about the importance the government attached to health inequalities.

Dr Hanif said the SAHF had used the information in the report to back up its own reports and statements.

In its official response on the issue, the SAHF said inequalities had been reduced by appreciating differences in patient experience and tailoring services accordingly.

‘Dropping the need to report patient experience from a diverse background might be a retrograde step and may significantly challenge not only equitable delivery of the White Paper, but also the drive to address inequalities,’ it said.

The DoH said it thought that the analysis used in the report had served its purpose and did not need to be repeated.

Data will continue to be analysed to see whether there are any changes in patterns of care that need to taken into account, the DoH said.

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