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Ethnic inequalities ‘minimal’ in NHS primary care, say researchers

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People from ethnic minority backgrounds in England are just as likely to access GP services as white people, and have similarly positive clinical outcomes, latest study results suggest.

UK researchers, who analysed thousands of respondents to four waves of the Health Survey for England, found that people from ethnic minorities were no more likely than white people to have undiagnosed illness, and just as likely to have their condition well managed.

There were no ethnic inequalities in the clinical outcomes of care for patients with hypertension and raised cholesterol, and the only evidence of poorer outcomes in diabetes care was in Pakistani and Irish groups, the researchers said.

However, the report did find inequalities in how patients from ethnic minority groups access hospital services, and a ‘marked’ difference in accessing dental care.

Lead study author Professor James Nazroo, from the School of Social Sciences at the University of Manchester, said: ‘While inequalities in the care received may exist for some conditions and other health care settings, the implication of our research is that ethnic inequalities in healthcare are minimal within NHS primary care.

‘In other words, publicly funded primary care with universal access has resulted in greater equality of access to and outcomes of care across the main ethnic groups. It’s a vindication of the NHS and the principles that underpin it,’ he added online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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