The government, NHS England and other policy makers in the health sector should take urgent steps to improve end of life care for minority ethnic groups, Marie Curie Cancer Care has said.
The charity has launched a new paper, “Next steps: Improving end of life care for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in the UK” setting out recommendations to address the low levels of use of palliative and end of life care services by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.
A report commissioned by Marie Curie and Public Health England from the Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College London published in June 2013 revealed that the end of life needs of BAME people are not adequately met or understood.
The new paper urges the NHS England, Clinical Commissioning Groups and local authorities to ensure that current and future BAME needs are taken into consideration in newly integrated services. It also recommends Equality Impact Assessments to determine whether these services will meet the needs of people from BAME communities.
The new paper further urges Health Education England and Local Education and Training Boards to review existing training programmes to ensure that they are future proof, particularly around the effectiveness of cultural competency training.
Imelda Redmond, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Marie Curie, said: “We know that people from minority ethnic backgrounds are currently much less likely to access end of life services for a variety of reasons. However, demographic changes and other factors mean that the healthcare system will be in danger of failing to reach increasing numbers of people in the coming years unless urgent action is taken. It is crucial that policy makers and commissioners rise to the challenge quickly and take the steps needed to ensure that we are providing the right support for everyone at the end of their lives.”
Chi Onwurah, Member of Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne Central and sponsoring MP for the paper, said: “End of life care often finds us at our most vulnerable and weakest. Everyone deserves care that works for them, but as the Marie Curie Report shows there are clear barriers preventing people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities from accessing the end of life care and support they need. I congratulate Marie Curie on shining a much needed spotlight on the needs of people from different communities and hope we can now all work together to ensure those needs are met.”