Intended for healthcare professionals


Ethnic health inequalities in the NHS

BMJ 2022; 376 doi: (Published 09 March 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;376:o607
  1. Kiran C R Patel, chief medical officer1,
  2. Wasim Hanif, consultant diabetologist2
  1. 1University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire, Coventry, UK
  2. 2University Hospitals Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  3. Correspondence to: K C R Patel

Improvement is urgently required “from board to ward”

Health inequalities are unfair and avoidable differences in health among different groups within society. These differences may be segregated by social class, ethnicity, sex, geography, and literacy, among other things.1 The covid-19 pandemic starkly exposed ethnic health inequality. The disproportionate effect on black and Asian populations, caused by a complex interplay of social and biological factors, resulted in increased exposure, reduced protection, and increased severity of illness. The recently established NHS Race and Health Observatory commissioned a rapid evidence review on ethnic inequalities in healthcare,2 hot on the heels of a political agenda seeking to tackle inequitable distribution of power, money, and resources in the UK.

The observatory’s review identifies five main areas of ethnic inequality: mental health, maternal and neonatal healthcare, digital inclusivity, personalised genomics and genetics, and the healthcare workforce. The review highlights longstanding inequalities to which we seem to have become immune. Mental health …

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