The New NHS Must Address Needs Of Black And Minority Groups

January 30, 1998

(Meeting the needs of black and minority ethnic groups)

The new NHS white paper emphasises the importance of ensuring that black and minority ethnic groups are not "disadvantaged" in their access to health services. In a paper in this week's BMJ Free and McKee note that current access for these groups is disadvantaged as some people have a limited knowledge of health services and the health services that are planned for the majority are not always appropriate. These groups may also lose out as there is an increasing reliance on the telephone as a means of obtaining care (exemplified by the new helpline NHS Direct). Such a move does not take into account those who do not speak English or do not have access to an interpreter (estimated to be around 600,000 people). The authors conclude that for these groups "inappropriate" attendance at an accident and emergency department may remain the only source of medical care outside working hours.


Dr Caroline Free, research fellow, Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Kings College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London


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