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Ethnic Inequalities in Healthcare

Volume 709: debated on Tuesday 1 March 2022

3. What assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the NHS Race and Health Observatory’s February 2022 report on “Ethnic Inequalities in Healthcare”. (905775)

Addressing the disparities discussed in that report is one of my key priorities. We are already making progress in crucial areas such as increasing covid-19 vaccine take-up among ethnic minority groups. To go further, we also plan to publish a health disparities White Paper later this year that will set out impactful measures designed to address disparities and their causes, including those linked to ethnicity.

I thank the Secretary of State for his response. I hope he will ensure that he implements all the conclusions of that report. He is aware of the McLean review into the senior leadership of the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, who have now annexed the Walsall Manor Hospital. Can he say what he will do to ensure that all those working in the NHS and using the NHS are treated with equality and transparency, starting with the Manor?

The right hon. Lady is absolutely right to raise this issue. This is one of the most important issues and one of the biggest longer-term challenges to face the NHS. I welcome the report and I will be taking it very seriously. She will know that I have commenced action on ethnic disparities in healthcare. For example, I have asked for an investigation, headed by Dame Margaret Whitehead, into potential bias in medical devices. The right hon. Lady is also right to raise the importance of inequality of treatment, and I will shortly have more to say on that.

This report is damning. The evidence shows that, over a decade of Conservative Government, we have not seen any significant change. Ethnic minority patients continue to receive poorer care because of their race at every stage of their life. The Tories have had 12 years to act. Why have they failed to do so?

The reason this report exists is that the Government want to see this kind of work being done by an independent organisation so that we can address these types of disparities and issues. There have been ethnic disparities in our health service for decades, sadly, under successive Governments, and it is this Government who are doing something about it. I have already referred to the medical devices review. Earlier this week, the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield), set out the maternity disparities taskforce, and we will have a lot more to say on this when we publish our forthcoming White Paper.