Black Brits Still Feel Discriminated Against By Doctors And Nurses

(Photo: PixelCatchers via Getty Images)
(Photo: PixelCatchers via Getty Images)

(Photo: PixelCatchers via Getty Images)

A high number of Black people living in the UK feel that they have been discriminated against by healthcare professionals, new research finds. Three-quarters (75%) of Black people between the ages of 18 and 34 reported prejudice when visiting doctors and hospitals.

Black African individuals were at least six percentage points more likely than other ethnicities to believe they are being discriminated against by health  service professionals due to their ethnicity.

Research also highlights that Black people face very real disparities in the types of treatments they are offered or the speed with which they
are diagnosed.

Lilian, aged 49 from Yorkshire and Humber, shared her experience of trying to access healthcare facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic in the Brick Wall After Brick Wall report.

“I was hospitalised and my treatment in the hospital was absolutely disgusting.
This man came in and I feel like he had this idea of what Black women and our
community were like,” Lilian recalled.

″’He said: ‘You are very selfish. You will probably infect a lot of people up there.’ I had not yet been vaccinated and he went on to say it’s the Black community that’s stopping the country from recovering from Covid.”

The research was commissioned by Black Equity Organisation (BEO), a national civil rights organisation launched earlier this year to challenge systemic racism in the UK.

The report also found that Black women felt they were not seen nor were their concerns listened to or incorporated into their treatment decisions. Participants felt that due to the misguided stereotype of “strong Black women”, practitioners were dismissive of their pain.

The latest report builds on previous research highlighting disparities in healthcare.

We already know that Black women are 40% more likely to miscarry than their white counterparts. Reasons can include not having their concerns listened to and unconscious biases from health practitioners about Black women being able to endure a higher threshold of pain.

Black women also report both discrimination and a mixed level of maternity care during the antenatal, labour, and the postnatal period, according to the Five X More Black Maternity Experiences survey.

One respondent said of her prenatal appointments: “I’d turn up in a tracksuit and be spoken to in a certain (dismissive) way until they learnt I was a lawyer… and they would be more respectful overall in my experience.”

This was also highlighted in the NHS Race Health Observatory Report where across maternity services, the researchers found evidence of negative interactions, stereotyping, disrespect, discrimination and cultural insensitivity. This made many ethnic minority women feel “unwelcome, and poorly cared for”.

It also found that Black patients in the UK are subject to more intrusive treatments, such as injectable anti-psychotics, and are less likely to be offered talking therapy for severe mental illness.

The bias in healthcare leads to further mistrust of the system, sustains the cycle of racism and overall, has very real health-related consequences, the researchers said.

Commenting on the latest findings, a NHS spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “No one should experience racism, discrimination or prejudice in the NHS, it is completely unacceptable and NHS organisations should take a zero-tolerance approach to any form of discrimination, whether against our staff or patients.

“We continue to support local NHS teams to take practical actions to ensure that services meet the needs of all patients, that people are taken seriously if they raise concerns, and that their workforce at all levels represents the communities they serve.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.