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 barriers facing service users when accessing healthcare services.
Across the broad spectrum of healthcare, Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic employees have not and do not feel adequately protected by the employers. The situation was equally dire for service users, with specific issues for vulnerable groups such as disabled people, asylum seekers, and refugees, who are all entitled to equal care under legislation but find that they must fight for it. The lack of consistency across health boards in Wales means that accessing health services is, in the words of Josh Law, “a postcode lottery.”
Allison Hulmes shared videos that formed part of the ‘Missing Voices’ of Disabled People in the UK research project to highlight the shortcomings of disability care provisions for the GRT community. These poignant videos shared stories of people who are forced to pay for expensive renovations and equipment as they are not taught what they are entitled to, and the complex nature of navigating the healthcare system and information documents further leave the GRT community at a disadvantage due to literacy rates.
Josh Law highlighted that whilst helpful policies, such as the Social Services and Wellbeing Act and Health Equality Framework, exist, the lack of consistent practice negated the potential of positive effects. In light of the pandemic, stress and anxiety levels were high for parents and carers and remained so even during lifting of restrictions where more services were available. However, for those who have or care for those with complex health needs, access to services were hindered by requirements for transport access or personal assistance needs.
As discussed in the first blog of this series, a lack of consistent data collection of those from at risk groups and with protected characteristics means that there is a lack of knowledge of how these groups can and do access mental health services. This is in stark contrast with the statistic that psychosis is nine times more prevalent among African Caribbean communities and six times more prevalent among African populations than Wales’ white population. Alongside this, one in four people from diverse communities reported being lonely in Wales in 2017/18, compared to one in six of Wales’ white population. 30% Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic respondents to a survey reported feeling very anxious compared with 1 in 5 white respondents, and 1/3 of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic respondents feel isolated, as opposed to only 22% of white respondents. Even financially, 1 in 5 Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic respondents are worrying a lot about their finances compared with 15% of white respondents.
The Traveller Movement in their 2020 work found that suicide rates in GRT community are 6x higher than that of non-GRT people. Allison Hulmes also shared the correlation between experiences of racism and suicide in GRT communities, as per 2020 Greenfields and Rogers Report, “As right as rain.”
The high rates of anxiety and mental health issues, such as burning out from caring, are also addressed by All Wales Forum, with Josh Law sharing the wish to copy Scotland’s Respitality model and link local hospitality sectors with carers to donate breaks to allow people a chance to recuperate.