NHS body in England urges minority ethnic people to fill out census

Aamna Mohdin Community affairs correspondent
·2 min read

An independent NHS body is urging black and minority ethnic communities to complete this year’s national census survey to help capture a more accurate picture of the overall health condition of households across England.

The independent NHS Race and Health Observatory has called on minority ethnic communities to complete the online survey sent by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) by Sunday 21 March, or shortly after.

Data captured from the 2021 census households will include responses on household makeup such as the ethnicity of household members, individual data covering physical or mental health conditions, caring support provided to others, and questions about religion, qualifications and employment status.

“An understanding of how people are faring, particularly during this pandemic, will help us determine how we help them in the future. We need people to complete the census to obtain a more accurate picture on health conditions and caring responsibilities within black and minority ethnic households,” said Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the independent health body.

As the census is primarily online for the first time, the observatory is reminding those who may not have English as a first language, or older people without access to computers, that additional free support – via phone advice, text, email or webchat – is available from the ONS.

Naqvi added: “The vital information submitted by households across England will help the observatory, along with local healthcare services, hospitals, social care providers and local authorities, in the design and delivery of fair and inclusive health and care services.”

Related: David Olusoga on the census: 'Some see it as a civic duty, and they're right'

Pete Benton, census director for the ONS, said: “Census 2021 will provide a rich snapshot of who we are as a nation – the size and structure of the population, the social and economic changes to our lives in light of the pandemic and EU exit, and our employment, education and health.

“The information it provides will inform decisions for years to come on public services, including hospitals, schools, houses and education, to meet the needs of our changing society.”

James Nazroo, an NHS Race and Health Observatory board member and professor of sociology at the University of Manchester, said: “The information provided by the census will give a comprehensive coverage of the UK population, and the insights it provides in relation to ethnicity and health will, alongside other important sources of information, help inform future observatory decisions and priorities in tackling the health concerns that are faced by ethnic minority communities.”