Education And Debate

Meeting the needs of black and minority ethnic groups

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 31 January 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:380
  1. Caroline Free, research fellowa,
  2. Martin McKee, professor of European public healthb
  1. a Department of General Practice and Primary Care, King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London SE5 9PJ
  2. b Health Services Research Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT

    The first paragraph of The New NHS highlights the government's commitment to reduce health inequalities. Access to health services is to be based on “need and need alone.” The white paper explicitly notes the importance of addressing variation in death rates and risk factors between different ethnic groups and emphasises the importance of ensuring that “black and minority ethnic groups are not disadvantaged” in their access to services.

    Although the differences can be overstated, some health needs of black and minority ethnic groups differ from those of the indigenous population.1 In addition, some, such as refugees, have specific health needs. The new arrangements need to incorporate some means of ensuring that these particular needs are recognised.

    The white paper gives general practitioners and community nurses a central role in assessing need, but general practitioners are trained to …

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