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Ethnic health inequalities: turning evidence into action

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1450 (Published 07 June 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1450
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. The BMJ

A year ago, NHS England announced that an organisation should be established1 to identify and tackle the health inequalities facing people from ethnic minority backgrounds. It came after The BMJ highlighted the effects of racism on patients and doctors in a special issue last February (www.bmj.com/racism-in-medicine). The Race and Health Observatory’s first director, Habib Naqvi, tells Zosia Kmietowicz about his plans and ambitions.

How has your first six months as director of the observatory been?

It’s been a fantastic six months. I’ve been given a blank sheet to establish the observatory and it’s been a bit like building a plane while in flight—we’re establishing the architecture and infrastructure while also delivering outputs. We’ve pulled together a fantastic board of experts in inequality, health inequalities, and racial equality2 (see box) and the observatory officially started in April. The diverse representation of the board with its high level of expertise, knowledge, diversity of thought, and innovation is exactly what we need to shift the dial on inequalities in health.

At the same time there’s been a level of urgency and expectation for delivery. We’ve completed several pieces of work, including some that can have an immediate impact on patients and communities with regards to the pandemic. For example, we’ve been working with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on the uptake of the covid-19 vaccine among health and social care staff—we hope to publish on this soon, highlighting some lessons in terms of how the NHS can support frontline staff. But we’ve also been thinking about deep rooted problems that we need to focus on. …

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