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BME people less likely to complain about care

Racial disparity over raising concerns over care

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 13 June 2019

People from a black and minority ethnic (BME) background appear to be less likely to complain about the quality of their care than those from a non-BME background, according to new research* by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The research was undertaken for the CQC as part of its year-long Declare Your Care campaign, which began in February and which has previously revealed that almost seven million people who have had concerns about their health or social care in England in the past five years have not voiced them.

The new research involved a survey of 2,002 people in England who have had a health service (NHS and private) or social care experience in the last five years either as a patient or carer.

Findings show that almost half of BME people with a previous mental health problem (48%) have wanted to raise concerns about mental health services but did not do so.

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.

Overall, 30% of people surveyed said they had made a complaint or raised a concern, a further 15.5% had wanted to but did not, and 54.4% said they had not felt the need to raise any issues.

Reasons highlighted as to why people did not feed back on their standard of care included not knowing who to raise it with (33%), not wanting to be a “troublemaker” (33%), and 37% felt that nothing would be changed by speaking up.

However, when people did raise a concern or complaint, the majority (66%) found their issue was resolved quickly, it helped the service to improve or they were happy with the outcome.

Most people who provided feedback on their care were motivated by a desire to make sure that care improved for others.

This included wanting to improve the care they, or a loved one, had received (61%) and improve care for everyone using the service (55%) with a smaller number also hoping for an apology or explanation (26%).

Ian Trenholm, CQC chief executive, said: “These findings demonstrate that there is still a significant disparity across different groups when it comes to providing feedback about standards of healthcare services. It is essential that everyone feels comfortable and confident about raising concerns about their care.

“Hearing from people about their experiences of care, good or bad, is an important part of our inspection work and contributes to improving standards.”

Jabeer Butt, chief executive at the Race Equality Foundation said: “Too many people in the UK experience poor care, and we know that black and minority ethnic people are more likely to experience it and less likely to report or complain about it.

“We need to work together to build trust, so that when people do want to complain they can do so with confidence that action will be taken. That first step of speaking out can be very difficult, but it is absolutely necessary if we want things to get better.”

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