User participation in health care services

Author(s): Ossie Stuart;  

Briefing series: Better Health Briefing Paper 7

Publisher: Race Equality Foundation

Publication date: February 2008

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User participation in health care services
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Low take-up of services among black and minority ethnic communities is still frequently explained as being due to 'cultural' and social preferences within these communities, despite evidence to suggest that users have little faith in those services that exist and lack support to use them.

With poor representation of local communities amongst the NHS workforce, especially at senior levels, black and minority ethnic users also emphasise the need for better training for all staff.

Despite the importance given by the Department of Health to 'choice' and involvement, user participation still remains an ambition rather than a reality for black and minority ethnic users. However, black and minority ethnic user participation is key to improving the organisation and delivery of health care services.

Key messages:

  • Black and minority ethnic groups generally have poorer health than the overall population, although the extent of ethnic health inequalities is masked by poor data collection
  • Low take-up of services among black and minority ethnic communities is still frequently explained as being due to cultural and social preferences within these communities, despite contrary evidence
  • Black and minority ethnic users and carers lack support to use the available information and have little faith in those services that exist
  • Users from black and minority ethnic communities want greater diverse provision to be as explicit a goal of health care as it increasingly is of social care
  • The NHS workforce should better represent the local communities it serves, especially at senior levels. However, what most black and minority ethnic users really want is better training for all staff
  • Despite the importance given by the Department of Health to choice and involvement, user participation still remains an ambition rather than a reality for black and minority ethnic users. However, BME user participation is key to improving the organisation and delivery of health care services.

Sections:

  • Black and minority ethnic groups: poorer health than the overall population
  • Explaining low take-up of services among black and minority ethnic communities
  • Lack of support for black and minority ethnic users and carers
  • The need for greater diverse provision to be an explicit goal of health
  • The NHS workforce should better represent the local communities it serves
  • User participation: an ambition rather than a reality for black and minority ethnic users