Public Health England has published a report called ‘Local action on health inequalities: Understanding and reducing ethnic inequalities in health’. The report aims to promote an integrated approach to reducing health inequalities and ensure the Secretary of State for Health, NHS England and Clinical Commissioning Groups have regard to the need to reduce health inequalities and to comply with the Equality Act 2010.
The main themes to emerge include:
Mainstreaming ethnicity to ensure that poor health outcomes are understood and effective interventions are put in place.
Senior leadership has been slow to address ethnic inequalities in health. Racism and ethnic discrimination has to be acknowledged to construct effective action.
Gaps in data collection, analysis and reporting has hindered the development of measures and has limited evidence-based policy and practice.
Sustainable engagement with BME communities is lacking along with trust-building dialogue with service users.
PHE calls for an explicit focus on ethnicity in health inequalities work because ethnic identities have implications for health independent of other socioeconomic factors. While acknowledging that the dimensions of disadvantage intersect and that there is significant diversity between groups, the report states that ‘… healthcare commissioners in England often feel uncertain about engaging with ethnic inequality, an issue that can be seen as contentious … People can be fearful of making a mistake or worry that considering ethnicity will add complexity to their work …’