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Ethnicity and Inequality in the NHS

Posted Aug 26 2008 11:28pm

One of the (now not so) new Secretary of State for Health's stated aims for the NHS was to reduce health service provision inequalities whether regional, age-group, ethnic etc.

A major paper by researchers, sponsored by Cancer Research UK, looking at the perceptions of healthcare professionals into their own interactions with patients and carers of cultures other than their own, has just been published and makes interesting reading.

I need to reread the paper ... but a brief personal comment .

African women carry their babies on their back and Nanda and Kezia were no exception. When Kezia was upset, onto Nanda's back and all worries would disappear.

When we were “interned” at the RMCH, the nurses on the Borchardt Ward noticed this and through their cultural “inexperience” were totally amazed at the calming effect this would have. One day Kezia was upset at a treatment and Nanda, probably in her anxiety at Kezia's distress, completely forgot how Kezia would calm down and sleep on Nanda's back. The white causcasian nurses, with no or little cultural “training” suggested “Try putting her on your back like you've done so may times before ...” And Kezia calmed down and slept.

A conclusion in the abstract of the paper is “ A shift away from a cultural expertise model toward a greater focus on each patient as an individual may help.”.

Couldn't agree more!

The nurses had observed what worked and what worked successfully for the individual regardless of her ethnicity.

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