The King's Fund announces new study to improve minority ethnic access to health care

A major study examining access to health care among black and minority ethnic groups was announced today by The King's Fund.

The study*, which will run for 18 months, will bring together evidence on the nature and extent of any difficulties in access to care. It will identify and evaluate existing attempts to improve access for different groups and look at ways of ensuring that care is more accessible, especially in the context of a rapidly changing NHS.

Some people from black and minority ethnic groups experience poorer health than the population as a whole and are often less satisfied with the health care they receive. But it is not clear how and in what ways such patients experience unfair treatment, or the extent to which ethnicity or some other factor may be playing a part.

With the government promising a genuinely patient-centred NHS, this study will look at how the health care system responds to the needs of diverse groups as well as what works and what is cost effective.

Speaking at an event to announce new developments at The King's Fund, chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'The NHS was created to provide fair treatment for all - but often it has failed to achieve this. The aim is for our study to provide new insights and practical solutions.'

The King's Fund announced a number of other policy initiatives for 2006 at the event, including:

  • Reviewing social care funding for older people - the conclusion of this major study, led by Sir Derek Wanless, will make significant recommendations about how social care should be delivered and financed in the medium and long term. The King's Fund is also planning its next inquiry in this series to focus on another group of social care clients.
  • Informing NHS funding decisions - the King's Fund will continue its work on influencing the government’s forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. This will include a summit at Leeds Castle in Kent to bring together experts to consider where investment will be most effective, the management of NHS resources and the impact of expected lower rates of funding growth.
  • Analysing NHS workforce - there will be evaluative reports on both the consultant contract introduced in 2003 and Agenda for Change, introduced in 2004.

The King's Fund also undertakes developmental work, testing ideas in practice, running leadership programmes for mangers and clinicians and providing organisational development support across the health care system. New developments for 2006 include:

  • Completing work for the Department of Health to develop a software tool to help health care staff and primary care trusts identify and help those patients at high risk of hospital admission.
  • Rolling out the Partners for Health in London funding and development programme. This programme is currently focusing on challenges in the areas of end-of-life care, sexual health, mental health advocacy, and looking at how complementary practice and traditional approaches to health can work most effectively with conventional healthcare.
  • Expanding consultancy work in order to support health service organisations. King's Fund Consulting will offer strategic consultancy, organisational development and data analytic support to help NHS organisations meet the challenges they face.

Notes to editors: 

*The study will be led by King’s Fund health policy fellow Ruth Thorlby, with expert advice from James Nazroo, Professor of Medical Sociology at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London.

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact the King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The King's Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through funding. We are a major resource to people working in health and social care, offering leadership development programmes; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.