Health And Wellbeing For BME Communities

Britain’s Black communities experience poorer health along with access to health and social care compared to the general population. There is a link between social deprivation, poverty, housing, education and cultural behaviour and norms engaging with health professionals. There is also clear evidence that racism and discrimination that can affect a person’s health status.

The combination of health inequalities and racial inequalities has the following impact:

  • Rates of detention under the Mental Health Act are higher than average for Black Caribbean and Black African compared to the rest of the population
  • Prevalence of stroke 70 per cent higher than the average
  • We are six times more likely to develop diabetes
  • Black men and women have higher incidence of cancer such as prostate, oral, stomach, and liver. There is also clear evidence of reported poor experience of cancer care treatment and support
  • Insufficient support for young people accessing mental health and counselling services.

Black staff since World War II have played a key role in the development of the NHS from its creation in 1948.  The NHS is the largest employer in the UK with over has 1.3 million staff, thus making this also the biggest employer for Black people working across a whole range of disciplines and professions. However recent research undertaken by the RCN show that black nurses are more likely to bullied and put on disciplinary compared to their white peers.

Despite attempts efforts to increase representation of black staff at senior management and board level constant restructuring of the NHS has made matters worse. A report by Middlesex University called ‘Snowy White Peaks‘ further highlights the nature of racism in the NHS on board representation and poor patient experience from black communities.

We need a race equality strategy and a commitment by the Secretary State for Health and senior leaders in health and social care to work in partnership with service users, carers and the wider community to deliver on the following manifesto:

  •  Secretary of State for Health and Chief Medical Officer to develop a BME health and social race equality action plan with resources
  • Establish clear target and indicators on tackling racial and health inequalities for Health & Well Being Boards
  • Continue ring fence budgets from Public Health England, CCGS and Health and Well Being Boards to fund community led social marketing and health awareness programmes targeting BME communities
  • Development of cultural specific counselling and trauma conflicts services
  • Ongoing support of patient and community engagement in making health and social care service accountable
  • Development of supported housing projects for people with mental health and learning disabilities
  • Introduction of a national screening programme targeting black men and women for cancer
  • Develop quotas and target to increase senior management and non-executive board representation
  • Prevent further marketisation of the NHS but encourage development of BME led organisations as partners working in the support and delivering services
  • Introduction of a race equality strategy to tackling health inequalities with a focus on mental health, dementia, cancer, diabetes and women’s health
  • Development of a national action plan for BME elders exploring housing and social care packages including development of retirement homes in the Africa and Caribbean.

We need a new agenda and political commitment to ensure the health and wellbeing of black people is being considered seriously as voters, tax payer and contributors to the economy.

A major transformation in policy and services development is now required in the next period of Parliament to put race back on the agenda.