New research emerging from the Care Quality Commission #DeclareYourCare, campaign has shown racial disparity in people raising concerns about their care.
It does beg the question why in 2019, are we still seeing statistically, that those from a black and minority ethnic (BME) background are far less likely to give feedback on the standards of care they have received than those from a non-BME background?
In fact, looking at the statistics they are worlds apart.
‘The findings of the research, commissioned by CQC, show that almost half of BME people with a previous mental health problem (48%) have wanted to raise concerns about mental health services. This is compared to just 13% of non-BME people with a mental health problem.
Additionally, 84% of BME people with a mental health problem have also wanted to raise concerns or make complaints about the standard of their care more generally, in comparison to 63% of non-BME people with a mental health problem’.
To speak up comfortably and with confidence requires the belief that patients will be heard, and that their reporting will be acted on with integrity and conviction, no matter what their heritage. Nobody will waste their time feeding back if they feel that they won’t be taken seriously. And let’s face it, it takes strength, from most, to point out poor standards of care. Particularly when they or a family member is suffering from a mental health issue.
So how do we begin to make a difference and to change the status quo? There is no easy answer to this, but it should begin with education and training of clinicians and administrative staff to recognise that the needs and care of patients from different backgrounds may need to be supported differently.
What we do know is that improved BME representation in leadership roles within the NHS would contribute positively to BME patients feeling both supported in their health care plan and for them to be able to relate to their clinician.
It’s great to see that part of the new NHS Long Term plan outlines a commitment and investment funding for long term support for race equality. This plan hopes to not only improve the experiences of BME people working in the NHS, but also to improve, increase and progress BME representation in recruitment to senior NHS roles, including those at board level.
The hard evidence and data contained in the CQC campaign factually paints a picture of racial disparity that cannot be denied – one that is disappointing. But hopefully, by making the improvements mentioned above we can begin to make the transformational change needed in the NHS to ensure good patient care and improved outcomes for BME patients.
By getting this right we can begin to build the trust essential to enable BME patients to raise concerns in order to improve standards of care for them and their loved ones. #DeclareYourCare.
Johanne Penney is the Academy’s Education Policy Manager
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