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Ethnic minority groups less satisfied with NHS care

Government report reveals variation in satisfaction between groups

OnMedica Staff

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Patients from ethnic minority groups are less satisfied with their NHS care than their white counterparts, according to a government report.

The Department of Health, together with the Care Quality Commission, examined the self-reported views of patients from different ethnic groups and found that overall black and minority ethnic (BME) groups were less likely to give positive responses than the white British group.

Patients from Asian and Chinese/other groups gave more negative responses than white patients, while the results for black patients were mixed, although slightly less positive than the white group in relation to their experiences in primary care and A&E. Patients from ethnic minority groups were significantly less likely to say that they had confidence and trust in their doctor than white British respondents.

The results are based on data from the National Patient Survey programme, led by the Care Quality Commission. BME groups tended to be less positive about questions relating to "access and waiting" or to "better information and more choice". Across the survey the biggest differences were seen in the primary care survey, and fewest differences were found in community mental health.

In its report, the Department of Health states that the results may be influenced by differences in perception as well as physical differences in experience.

"A range of factors may influence these findings, including, but not limited to, actual differences in the quality of care received, different expectations and perceptions, and different cultural norms in responding. It is also possible that geographical factors may influence the results if, for example, certain ethnic groups are clustered in particular locations," it stated.

Improving patients’ experiences and reducing inequalities are key elements of government healthcare policy.

The report concluded: "To provide services that are tailored to the needs of local populations and individual patients we must examine and take into account the variations in the experiences of different groups as they interact with the full range of health services.

"This report does not necessarily demonstrate failings in tangible, physical aspects of service provision. It does, though, raise questions and focus attention on areas where the service, as it appears to patients and service users from particular groups, may be improved by attending to particular
concerns, needs or observations. The findings reported here, along with the Care Quality Commission’s reports and other data, should all be considered within the local context by NHS trusts as they seek to do this."

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