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What is Race & Ethnicity

Ethnicity refers to a common group identity based on language, culture, religion or other social characteristics. This means that people define their own ethnicity, that everyone (and not just those in minorities) has ethnicity and that a person’s ethnic identity may change over time. For example some people might describe themselves as Scottish Chinese.

Race is the group you belong to, or are perceived to belong to, in the light of a limited range of physical factors. The term ‘race’ should be used in relation to legislation only and not to describe people who belong to an ethnic group.

The term BME is often used within the public sector. It’s an abbreviated term for Black and Minority Ethnic and is often used to describe people from minority ethnic groups, particular those who have suffered racism or are in the minority because of their skin colour and/or ethnicity.

Race and Ethnicity and Discrimination

Racism refers to the combined use of power with racial prejudice (the belief that some races are inferior to others) which leads to the oppression or discrimination of specific racial or ethnic groups.

Racism can be detected through attitudes, processes, behaviours and actions which impact on any ethnic group/s and can lead to differences in education and employment opportunities, living conditions and health.

The Race Relations legislation is designed to ensure that large public organisations like NHSGG&C promote race equality and challenge discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origins. We are required to;

  1. eliminate unlawful racial discrimination;
  2. promote equality of opportunity; and
  3. promote good relations between people of different racial groups.

Following is a short film by the Equality & Human Rights Commission titled ‘What is race discrimination?’.

Race and Ethnicity and Other Protected Characteristics

Racism can be intensified by other forms of discrimination, for example on the basis of sex, disability, age and social class.

  1. Black African women are six times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.
  2. Women from the South Asian community are less likely to attend breast cancer screening and only half as likely to accept an invitation to be screened for bowel cancer than members of the non-Asian community.
  3. Evidence suggests the health gap between white and black/minority ethnic communities is greater in older people.
  4. Over a third of people from minority groups are in poverty after housing costs are taken into account, compared with 17% of the ‘white British’ group

Race & Ethnicity & COVID-19

Within the Black and Minority Ethnic population, Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers have the lowest median hourly pay and are also the least likely to work from home in the UK, while in Scotland, African women were by far the most likely to be working in either caring, leisure and other service occupations or sales and customer service occupations, where homeworking may be much less feasible.

How we are addressing race and ethnicity issues

How we are addressing race issues

‘A Fairer NHSGGC 2016-20’ explains how the organisation is meeting the requirements of equality legislation. This includes demonstrating how we will assess the impact of the measures we have put in place to ensure race equality for service users and staff.

Areas of work include:

Interpreting service

Interpreting services address a number of risks for both service users and staff. For example, patients who have a limited understanding of English:

  • may not be able to give informed consent
  • may not be able to ask questions or seek assistance
  • may not be aware of what services are available to them
  • may not be able to use medication properly or follow care plans
  • may come from cultures with different understandings of health and illness
  • may not understand how to use NHS services
  • may not understand their rights and responsibilities within the healthcare system

Ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to engage in the health care process benefits all concerned.In addition, equalities legislation stipulates that the organisation must be pro-active in ensuring that this is the case.

NHSGGC’s in-house interpreting service provides interpreters to NHS patients on request. The service is available to a wide range of service areas and departments, including hospital wards, outpatient clinics, medical practices, dental surgeries,pharmacies and opticians located throughout the NHSGGC area.

‘Clear to All’ Accessible Information Policy

Effective information and communication are vital for the provision of high-quality services and care. Many of those who access services have difficulty understanding the information provided. An Accessible Information Policy has been produced to ensure that all information can be made available in various languages and formats to meet the needs of our diverse community.

A toolkit for staff has been developed which helps to provide information and support in the development of accessible information for NHS patients, their carers and the public. The toolkit aims to ensure that the material we develop is clear, consistent with NHSGGC guidance, accurate and in everyday language.

Details are available on the ‘Clear to All’ Accessible Information Policy web page.

People’s Experiences

Briony’s Story

Briony is part of the travelling people’s community and has lived in Scotland all her life.

Briony and her family have lived on the caravan site for 8 of the last 10 years. They were there for three years, moved into a flat for two years, and then have been back at the site for the last five years. When they moved into the flat it was mostly due to her health problems, but they also felt like maybe they would want a change and settle in for a little while. But after a couple of years, they wanted to move back to the caravan site because that is who they are and it was where they wanted to be.

She tells about how it was for her and her family to register with the local surgery when they first moved to the caravan site. There was not just one doctor’s surgery for everyone on the site, so all of the people living there were allocated to different surgeries. Briony herself went around to all of the local surgeries to see if she could register with one, but none would take them on. “They kept telling me ‘you aren’t from this area, so we can’t take you. She had to wait to get a letter from NHS telling her which surgery they had been allocated to and where to go before she could register.

When they moved into the flat, they didn’t have any problem registering with a surgery, and everyone was really nice to her. When asked why she thought there were no problems with getting registered and why they were nice, she says, “Oh, I couldn’t speak for them. But it could because I was in a flat at the time and not from the caravan site. This surgery was one of the ones I went around to when we were first at the caravan site and they said they wouldn’t take us on. But when we were in the flat, they would.

“I‘m still with that surgery now, even though we’ve moved back to the site. And they are still nice”.

Support and Resources
Why race and ethnicity matters to Health

Race and ethnicity affect people’s health in a number of ways. Our ethnic background can affect our susceptibility to certain diseases and conditions. There is also a clear link between discrimination and health and implications for the way in which health services should be provided.

For example:

  1. Black and Minority Ethnic Scots are much more likely to live in poverty, with a poverty rate of 38% for  Mixed, Black or Black British people and 34% for the Asian or Asian British community, compared to 18% for White British people. Poverty is a key factor in poor physical and mental health and creates barriers to accessing health & social care services
  2. One third of black and minority ethnic people in Scotland report experiencing racial discrimination. Racially motivated hate crimes are the most reported type of hate crime.
  3. Gypsy/Travellers are more likely to report long-term health conditions than the general population. They are also twice as likely to report three or more categories of health conditions. 

Race & Ethnicity & COVID-19

In Scotland, deaths amongst people in the South Asian ethnic group have been almost twice as likely to involve COVID-19 as deaths in the White ethnic group, after accounting for age group, sex, area-level deprivation and urban rural classification.

In response, the Scottish Government has set up an Expert Group on COVID and ethnicity. This group’s ongoing work includes investigating any disproportionate risks and impacts on minority ethnic groups, ensuring that Minority Ethnic staff working in health and social care receive the support they need and ensuring communities are listened to and receive health messages in accessible languages and formats.