The All Wales Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Engagement Team brought in the New Year with another forum, this time focusing on Race and Healthcare. In light of the pandemic and the unprecedented effect on Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic employees on the front line EYST dove into the healthcare system, both before and during the pandemic, to see what is being done to safeguard and protect these communities as service providers and users. The findings make for unpleasant reading, but there is a real chance for change within the system to strengthen the protection for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic employees as well as the Healthcare system?
Joining us on the day as key speakers were the brilliant Allison Hulmes of BASW, Josh Law of All Wales Forum, and Alex Osbourne of Disability Wales.
So, what did we learn? Today’s blog discusses the lack of data in healthcare research and how communities are now conducting the work themselves to ensure that they are included and represented in healthcare policies, following failures to include them in the past.
Most importantly, the data and research into Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic service providers and users is scant. Simply put, there is not enough effort and funding put into researching and engaging Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities and their experiences with healthcare.
When conducting research for this forum, Dr Wahida Shah-Kent’s work was the most up to date and wide ranging research in this area. Her 2020 works, “Who supports the families of black and minority ethnic children with life-limiting conditions?”, and 2021 work, “Black and Minority Ethnic Groups, Learning Disability, and the Need for Ethnicity Data | University of South Wales.” were heavily relied upon, but it is not for Dr Shah-Kent to do this work alone.
There was also the issue of research not being specific enough when it was conducted; the findings were presented in a homogenous Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic categorisation, without separation of specific ethnicities. This causes issues as it doesn’t truly reflect the lives of people in Wales, nor where communities’ specific needs lie. This was also a point raised by Allison Hulmes during her presentation, whereby there was no disaggregation in statistics for GRT communities, despite each community’s different ethnicities and identities. The inability to self-identify as Roma until 2011, coupled with social stigma and shame causing growing reluctance to self-identify as GRT, means that statistics are not correct nor representative of GRT communities.
In the face of a lack of research, organisations such those the guest speakers represent conduct their own research and advocate for inclusive policy and practice.
A positive move is happening between Queen’s University, Belfast, and All Wales Forum, in the form of a research project based on the pandemic’s effect on parents and carers, covering:
The videos shared by Allison Hulmes from ‘Missing Voices’ of Disabled People in the UK was co-produced research to try and fill the gaps in knowledge of disability within GRT community. The Welsh Government 2018 policy Enabling Gyspies, Roma and Travellers, was set out to improve the health of GRT community, but these goals have not been met.
Similarly, Disability Wales’ produced a 2013 publication titled Know your Rights, which includes information such as the Equality Act and the Wellbeing Act to strengthen people’s knowledge and empower them to ask for help and services that they are entitled to when speaking to bodies such as local council. This piece of work was relied upon by a member in North Wales to lobby the local council to have an extra hour before opening and after closing on the high street to allow disabled people and their vehicles to access the high street, as the council had stopped vehicles accessing the high street during usual opening hours.